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Romance Watson

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Information about Romance Watson

Profile image of Romance Watson

Profession

Category:
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Singer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Barbecue
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring, Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Tahiti
Favorite Quote:
It Is What It Is.

Birthplace

Born:
1/4/1930
Birth Location:
Chicago, Illinois

Profession

Category:
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Singer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Barbecue
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring, Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Tahiti
Favorite Quote:
It Is What It Is.

Birthplace

Born:
1/4/1930
Birth Location:
Chicago
See how Romance Watson is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Gospel singer Romance Watson was born in Chicago, Illinois on January 4, 1930 to Laura and Amos Watson. He is the youngest of three siblings. Watson graduated Fuller Elementary and Wendell Phillips High School in Chicago in 1943 and 1950, respectively. In 1949, Watson became a member of the gospel music group the Roberta Martin Singers (RMS), led by its venerable namesake, pianist Roberta Martin. He would go on to perform with the co-ed singing group both nationally and abroad, recording gospel standards such as "Old Ship of Zion" (1949), "Yield Not To Temptation" (1947), "He Knows How Much You Can Bear" (1949), "Only a Look" (1949) and the composition, "The Lord Will Make a Way" (1951) for both the Religious and Apollo Records labels. The Roberta Martin Singers would go on to become one of the pre-eminent Gospel groups of the 1940s and 1950s, known for forsaking traditional gospel harmony for compositions that showcased members’ distinct, individual voices. Additionally, the group performed with giants such as James Cleveland and Mahalia Jackson, among many others.

In 1954, Watson relocated from Chicago to Philadelphia and married Phyllis Hoggard a year later. He continued recording with the Roberta Martin Singers, which was under a recording contract with Savoy Records by 1957. He would appear on the group’s first major hit, 1958’s "God Specializes," which featured member Gloria Griffin on lead. Watson left the group and recorded soul music for Coral Records, a subsidiary of the hugely popular British record label Decca Records. In 1959, Watson appeared as a guest on the legendary music program American Bandstand. He would leave music altogether in 1961, accepting a job as a bus operator for the Philadelphia Transportation Company, later subsumed by the Southeastern Transportation Authority (SEPTA).

In the 1990’s, Watson reunited with members of the Roberta Martin Singers, participating in tributes to Martin, who passed away in 1969. In 1991, Watson performed with RMS singers in a tribute concert honoring their founder, which was sponsored by the Smithsonian. Watson also performed with revered Gospel musicians such as renowned singer-songwriter Bill Gaither. Watson has since retired from SEPTA. He and his wife live in Philadelphia and have four adult children.

Romance Watson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 1, 2012.

See how Romance Watson is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Romance Watson's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Romance Watson lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Romance Watson recalls his early singing experiences, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Romance Watson remembers joining the Roberta Martin Singers
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Romance Watson talks about his mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Romance Watson describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Romance Watson talks about his siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Romance Watson describes his earliest childhood memories
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Romance Watson remembers his early music lessons
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Romance Watson talks about his neighbors in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Romance Watson describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Romance Watson recalls his childhood activities
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Romance Watson remembers his parents' discipline
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Romance Watson describes his early musical interests
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Romance Watson remembers the Watson Singers' gospel hymns
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Romance Watson describes the services at the All Nations Pentecostal Church in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Romance Watson remembers performing with the Watson Singers
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Romance Watson remembers Wendell Phillips High School in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Romance Watson describes his activities at Wendell Phillips High School in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Romance Watson recalls his suspension from Wendell Phillips High School
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Romance Watson remembers his high school girlfriend
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Romance Watson talks about the notable musicians from his neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Romance Watson remembers performing with the Roberta Martin Singers, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Romance Watson remembers performing with the Roberta Martin Singers, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Romance Watson describes his experiences of racial discrimination in the South
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Romance Watson recalls the songs he performed with the Roberta Martin Singers
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Romance Watson recalls the start of his cigarette habit
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Romance Watson remembers his courtship with his wife
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Romance Watson remembers becoming a father
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Romance Watson talks about his first record
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Romance Watson recalls the conflicts with his record promoter
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Romance Watson remembers the births of his children
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Romance Watson talks about the disbandment of the Roberta Martin Singers
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Romance Watson describes his career at the Philadelphia Transportation Authority
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Romance Watson remembers separating from his wife
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Romance Watson talks about his children
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Romance Watson shares his advice for young people
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Romance Watson recalls his U.S. military service during the Korean War, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Romance Watson describes his experiences of racial discrimination in the U.S. military
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Romance Watson recalls his U.S. military service during the Korean War, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Romance Watson remembers the bombing of MOVE by the Philadelphia Police Department, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Romance Watson remembers the bombing of MOVE by the Philadelphia Police Department, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Romance Watson talks about his singing engagements
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Romance Watson sings a verse from 'Tis the Old Ship of Zion'
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Romance Watson describes his friendship with Mahalia Jackson
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Romance Watson remembers reconnecting with Sallie Martin
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Romance Watson talks about his church choirs in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Romance Watson talks about the importance of professional medical care
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Romance Watson reflects upon his singing career
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Romance Watson talks about his spirituality
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Romance Watson reflects upon his life
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Romance Watson describes how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Romance Watson talks about his childhood friends
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Romance Watson shares his hopes for President Barack Obama
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Romance Watson reflects upon the importance of history