I was very sorry to read that the lead singer of the Dixie Hummingbirds, Ira B. Tucker Sr. has died — right here in Philadelphia:

Ira B. Tucker Sr., 83, of North Philadelphia, one of gospel’s most celebrated voices and lead singer of the venerable Dixie Hummingbirds, died of heart failure Tuesday at Kindred Hospital in the Northeast.
Mr. Tucker joined the Dixie Hummingbirds in 1938 in Greenville, S.C., when he was 13, 10 years after James B. Davis gathered a group of friends to sing a cappella. Mr. Tucker brought his style of gospel and blues to the group and the ‘Birds soared in worldwide performances for the next 70 years.
The Hummingbirds spent their first decade together “wildcatting” and establishing their reputation in one small town after another. They recorded their debut record on the Decca label in 1939.
Davis, who died last year, ruled his gospel singers with an unforgiving, steady hand. No women could ride in their 1940 DeSoto while they toured and no drinking was allowed.
The Hummingbirds – named for the only bird that can fly forward and backward when that was an apt metaphor for the group’s fortunes – had some tough times. They were stopped for a bad headlight, speeding, or simply because they were black and riding in a fancy car. One night after playing in Spartanburg, S.C., they were hauled into jail. An inmate who recognized them said, “Man, you got the Dixie Hummingbirds.”
The officers let them sing behind bars. “We had some kind of program that night,” Davis said in a 1998 Inquirer story. “You would have thought we were in church. We made the news the next day. They said if everyone were like the Dixie Hummingbirds, this would be a great world to live in.”

They’ve played with and inspired some of the best, including Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder, and others:

Stevie Wonder said in 1998, “No other group has been more important in the history of African American music.” The ‘Birds were credited with inspiring singers as disparate as B.B. King, James Brown, the Temptations, Jackie Wilson, Aretha Franklin and Bobby Bland.
In 1973, Paul Simon picked the Hummingbirds to sing “Loves Me Like a Rock” with him on his second solo album. The ‘Birds then cut their own version of the song and won a Grammy for Best Soul Gospel Performance.

The NY Times also has a nice obituary with more. I’ve been a fan of their music for years, own a couple of their CDs, and figured the least I could do is a tribute to Mr. Tucker in this blog.
I looked around on YouTube, and I’m embedding the one I liked best (despite the fact that it has “AL-19” emblazoned on it annoyingly).
Here’s “I Got So Much To Shout About” — performed in 1966.

Incredible music.
I guess separation between gospel and doowop never occurred to anyone in those days….