September 14, 2016 (Nashville, TN) – Ed Harper, iconic Gospel music industry veteran, will receive the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Honor from the SGMG (Southern Gospel Music Guild) during the 2016 National Quartet Convention In Pigeon Forge, TN. The presentation of the honor will take place during an invitation-only reception on Tuesday, September 27, 2016, at the LeConte Center. The announcement was made today by SGMG President, Clarke Beasley. Mr. Harper is the president of The Harper Agency, an elite booking agency for Gospel music artists.
“I can think of no one else that is more deserving of this honor than Mr. Ed Harper,” stated Beasley. “For over four decades, Ed Harper has served the Gospel music community with excellence and integrity, continuing the legacy of his father. He is the epitome of class, representing his artists and gospel music with dignity, respect, and excellence – tirelessly working to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Growing up as the son of the late Herman Harper, Ed Harper was exposed to the gospel music industry at a young age. Herman was the original bass singer of the Oak Ridge Boys during their early years as a gospel quartet, from 1956-1968. The last three years Herman also served as a co-owner and manager of the Oaks. Wanting to get off the road, Herman left his role with the Oak Ridge Boys in December of 1968 and began working with the first ever booking agency in gospel music Don Light Talent, who represented the group at the time.
As a young teenager, Ed began observing the booking agent’s world and through high school and college hoped that someday he may be able to follow in his father’s footsteps. In January of 1982, beginning his last semester before graduating at Belmont College majoring in business management, his lifelong dream came true. Ed recalls, “My father called me at my dorm one morning and said come in the office today. He was headed out of town but had a general price list of the agency roster on his desk that I could reference for all incoming phone calls inquiring about booking the artists. I actually booked my first date on an artist that day and I was hooked, and have never looked back.”
When Ed graduated from Belmont in May of 1982 he began working full time with Don Light Talent alongside his father, overseeing the gospel division of the agency. In 1986, he and his father started their own agency and this year marks the 30th year of the Harper Agency. Over the next few years, Herman Harper decided to bring his two other sons Clay and Jeff into the fold and the Harper Agency was definitely a family affair. In December of 1993 Herman Harper passed away unexpectedly. Wanting to fulfill his father’s intentions prior to his death, the agency incorporated and Ed became president and Jeff and Clay officers and co-owners of the agency. Over the years the Harper Agency has represented many of the pioneer artists in southern gospel music such as the Cathedral Quartet, JD Sumner and the Stamps, Vestal Goodman, Florida Boys, the Speer Family. Today their roster includes many top artists in southern gospel; Mark Lowry, the Booth Brothers, Isaacs, Martins, Legacy Five, Collingsworth Family, Brian Free and Assurance, the McKameys, Mark Trammell QT, The Talleys, Whisnants, Tribute, The Perrys, Kingsmen Quartet, Karen Peck and New River, Jim Brady Trio, Ball Brothers and Mark Bishop.
Throughout his career, Ed Harper has had the opportunity to serve as a board of director for industry organizations such as the Gospel Music Association, GMA Foundation and Hall of Fame, Southern Gospel Music Guild and the Gospel Music Trust Fund which his late father founded in 1983. Ed states “I have always wanted to gain knowledge in all areas of the music industry and having the opportunity to serve on the board of many organizations has been a great educational process along with a networking opportunity. This year marks my 35th year in the business I truly love and am blessed to be a part of. I love sharing with young aspiring agents and artists what I have learned through my journey, the good and the challenging moments as well. No two days have ever been the same.”