The Sons of Thunder Quartet originated in Clemmons, North Carolina, in 1993. The quartet was made up of men who sang regularly in the choir at their home church, Clemmons United Methodist. In these early days, the group at various times included Todd Carter, Rhett McAllister and Sam Dotson, along with charter members Paul Davis and Rob Bowers, who still sing with the Sons of Thunder today. Initially, the quartet’s appearances were limited to providing special music from time to time during morning worship or at special church events.
Originally, the group was conceived as a four-part men’s a cappella group. The musical skills and training of the individuals involved enabled the quartet to grow a sizeable repertoire, free from the constraints of sound equipment and tracks, or the added difficulty of finding an accompanist and a piano. The result was a rich harmonic blend which quickly became a favorite around the Clemmons community.At first the ensemble was known simply as ‘the men’s quartet’, even on occasions when it sported five members. But as their repertoire – and their reputation – grew, it was clear the foursome would require some more inventive moniker.
Early on, the group called itself The Journeymen; however, in addition to the fact that the name was already taken, it seemed not quite right for the personalities, ministry and calling of this particular brotherhood of gospel entertainers. By 1998, the group had finally adopted the name, The Sons of Thunder Quartet. As many readers will appreciate, the name is actually a biblical reference to two of Jesus’ disciples. According to Mark 3:17, we’re told that when James and John, the sons of Zebedee, became Jesus’ disciples, “to them he gave the name ‘Boanerges’, which means Sons of Thunder.”
After several personnel changes, 1998 also saw the group establish its current talent roster with the addition of Mitch Camp in the lead and Dan Booth singing baritone. As of March, 2005, the Sons of Thunder are:
Paul Davis, 1st Tenor, one of the original group, enjoys a career as a Physician Assistant in a Family Practice Clinic. Paul also gives many hours to his community through service as an EMT and Fireman. Paul has sung in church as long as he can remember through participation in a variety of choirs. During college, Paul also sang in the Men’s Glee Club. Paul has a real heart for Southern Gospel music and thus lends a lot of creative direction to the group.
Mitch Camp, 2nd Tenor, prefers to say he sings 2nd tenor, not “Lead,” recognizing that each part is equally important in forming a quality harmonic blend. Nonetheless, his melodies form a nucleus for the quartet’s smooth sound. Mitch’s musical background was more that of an instrumentalist, and he only started developing his vocal talents in his mid-twenties through his work in church choir. Professionally, Mitch is a hospital pharmacist.
Dan Booth, Baritone, jokes that his are the notes nobody else wants. The baritone notes add the finishing harmonic color to the chord structure, and Dan’s contribution rounds out the quartet’s special blend. Before coming to the quartet, Dan sang for many years in church choirs, college productions and in community theater. He operates his own multi-media firm specializing in creating educational, promotional, and marketing messages for a variety of clients.
Rob Bowers, Bass, is the other founding member of the group. Rob has been singing in church choirs since he was a child. In the quartet, he is equally adept as a soloist or blending into the chorus, providing a firm bass foundation on which rich chords can unfold. When not singing in the quartet, Rob works for a firm that manufactures critical hydraulic components for the aerospace industry. Like Paul, Rob contributes to his community through his service as an EMT and Fireman.
Although the group had been active for several years, The Sons of Thunder really began to spread their wings and expand their gospel music ministry in 1999. In the spring of that year, Karen Nehnevajsa, a young lady in their home church, was planning a mission trip to Brazil. To raise money for the effort, the quartet decided to stage a benefit concert, which was held April 17, 1999. After this, their first full length presentation, the group realized that God was calling them to do more. The quartet learned that when the Good Lord calls someone to service, He also provides the means to achieve results. And so a music ministry began!
The next few months saw the purchase of some sound equipment, and the application of magnetic signs with the group’s distinctive logo on the sides of Mitch’s white Yukon XL. That vehicle was assigned the role of ‘bus’, carrying the four guys and their gear to a variety of small churches, civic groups and private gatherings, including events in Tennessee, South Carolina and Virginia. All along the way, SOT4, as they had come to call themselves, continued to expand their song list, hone their performance skills, and fine-tune their musical talents. It was a time of tremendous growth and personal excitement for all four men.
The next turning point for the Sons of Thunder Quartet came in 2003, when the guys took their families and went on their first foray into the world of big-time Southern Gospel – a trip to the National Quartet Convention in Louisville, Kentucky. There they entered the group talent competition. Against a field of 72 other gospel groups, the quartet failed to place in the top 10 – but then, no other quartet did either. More important, the trip was a tremendous learning and growing experience.
Daunted only slightly by the experience in Louisville, the group went on in the fall of that year to enter another Southern Gospel competition, this time at Ray Flynn Promotion’s Christian’s Alternative to Halloween concert in Winston-Salem. The foursome performed their a cappella arrangement of the Cathedral’s classic, “Wonderful Grace of Jesus.” In what could only be described as one of the most surprising moments in the group’s history, the Sons of Thunder Quartet came in first place.
That evening saw the guys on stage at the Lawrence Joel Memorial Coliseum sharing “Wonderful Grace” with 11,000 Southern Gospel fans.Among the prizes awarded the Sons of Thunder was a substantial amount of recording time at The Farm Studio, home of the legendary gospel group, The Hoppers. With this impetus, the guys launched into their first CD project, appropriately titled “Wonderful Grace.” The project was blessed to have Dean Hopper, who took on the role of producer, and Mike Hopper, who was the recording engineer.
Thanks to the talents of these two gentlemen, this first recording project became a major milestone for the group.While still in the studio recording “Wonderful Grace,” the quartet kept up their schedule of personal appearances, logging 28 events during 2004. Among the most exciting of 2004’s opportunities was Ray Flynn’s Christian’s Independence Day in the Park in Union Grove, NC, where the Sons of Thunder performed on the same stage with such well-known gospel artists as The McKameys, Michael Combs, and The Booth Brothers.Hard on the heels of this major event, the quartet and their wives once again were on the road, this time to Pigeon Forge, TN, to compete in The Talley Trio’s Smoky Mountain Homecoming. In a classic case of déjà vu, SOT4 once again performed “Wonderful Grace of Jesus,” and once again, the judges awarded the group first place.
What a blessing it was for the group to share the stage with such talented and gracious people as Roger, Debra and Lauren Talley.Once again, the prize package included some serious studio time at the Talley’s recording facility, Summit Recording Studios, located in Morristown, TN. Thus, even before the group’s first CD project was premiered, the Lord had blessed them with the opportunity to move on to the second. Talk about a good measure, pressed down and overflowing!
In the midst of all this excitement, the group’s ministry was further affirmed when they received the 2004 SOGO Award as the Southern Gospel Regional Artists of the Year. The SOGO Awards are determined annually by the votes of southern gospel music fans from all over the world who visit thesoutherngospel.com web site. As a result, the Sons of Thunder Quartet found itself listed with such gospel greats as Bill Gaither, Greater Vision and Dottie Rambo. Heady company, indeed, for four guys just doing what they felt the Lord leading them to do.
With the first recording project set for release in April 2005, and the second already in the planning stages, the Sons of Thunder were ready to explore some new and exciting ministry opportunities even further afield. The year began with bookings in Pennsylvania and South Carolina, and included a trip to Singin’ in the Sun, one of Southern Gospel music’s premier events held annually in Myrtle Beach, SC.Although they are primarily focused on sharing the gospel message in song, the Sons of Thunder Quartet’s unique a cappella styling also lends itself to a variety of other musical forms, including doo-wop tunes from the 1950’s and 1960’s, and a bit of old fashioned barbershop harmony as well. This unusual blending of capabilities and styles has opened the doors to a number of different settings. As a result, SOT4 has been privileged to share the gospel in places where it might not otherwise have been heard.
But the real heart of the quartet is about sharing the good news of Jesus Christ in music, in any venue and with anyone who will listen. And even though the group’s success has widened the scope of their ministry dramatically, SOT4 still feels at home amid the fellowship and the spirit found in programs for local church congregations.
The Sons of Thunder, as a group and individually, continue to grow in ministry, to develop as entertainers, and to experience the abundance of blessing that comes from following God’s lead. In all that they do, they want people to hear a message of love and hope that will reaffirm a connection with Jesus Christ. For four men with busy careers and active families, scheduling rehearsals and performances sometimes gets tricky. But as long as they keep hearing a song of God’s good news in their hearts, there will continue to be a Sons of Thunder Quartet.