- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 29, 2007

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — James B. Davis Sr., who founded the gospel group the Dixie Hummingbirds, died April 17. He was 90.

The Dixie Hummingbirds were introduced to a broader audience in 1973, when they collaborated with singer Paul Simon on “Loves Me (Like a Rock),” winning themselves a Grammy for their own rendition. They toured for many years afterward at churches and music festivals.

Born June 6, 1916, in Greenville, S.C., Mr. Davis founded the Hummingbirds at age 12 and remained its leader until his retirement in 1984. The group, often referred to simply as the Birds, influenced singers from Jackie Wilson to Stevie Wonder.

The group first recorded in 1939 on the Decca label. In 1942, Mr. Davis moved the group from South Carolina to Philadelphia, where they had a daily radio show that led to a long-running stand at the New York City club Cafe Society Downtown.

Briefly renamed the Jericho Quintet, the group performed alongside acts including Billie Holiday, the Golden Gate Quartet and Paul Robeson.


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