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McVay & Johnson

About The Group

A pair of old time gospel singers from the Corbin, Kentucky area recorded a pair of songs for Columbia at a session in Johnson City, Tennessee on October 17, 1928. They were:

  • Ancil McVay (B: July 22, 1888 — D: April 12, 1948)
  • Roland Johnson (B: August 22, 1888 — D: July 11, 1954)

McVay had been born in Clay County and later settled in Laurel County where he worked as a section hand for the L & N Railroad. He joined the Holiness Church in 1911.

Johnson was probably born in Laurel County. The two began playing together in the 1920's. They may have played with the Ernest Phipps group in 1927 and almost certainly did in 1928. They also sang as a duet in area Holiness Churches throughout the Corbin area. They did so both before and after their experiences with phonograph recordings.

Sometimes McVay's children Thelma and Albert Johnson sang with them. Johnson's daughter Eula may have played on the Columbia session.

Ancil McVay owned and operated a gas station on Highway 25 in Corbin which he sold to a man named Harland Sanders. The latter expanded it by adding a restaurant and motel and became famous for the development of the Kentucky Fried Chicken "secret recipe." Eula Johnson, who worked for the "Colonel," may have "had a hand in devising the 'recipe.'"

As for her father, Roland Johnson remained with the L & N, preached, and sang on the side until his death in 1954.

Columbia - 15370-D - McVay and Johnson - Ancil McVay - Roland Johnson - Ain't GOing To Lay My Armor Down - November 17, 1928 - Johnson City, TN

Credits & Sources

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Recordings (78rpm/45rpm)

Rec. No. Side Song Title
  15370 D A Ain't Going To Lay My Armor Down
  15370 D B I'll Be Ready When The Bridegroom Comes

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