Since 1947, fans have flocked to see The Florida Boys. They appeared on the first gospel quartet concert ever held in New York’s Carnegie Hall. To perform at Carnegie Hall is recognized as the zenith of one’s career. With No. 1 hits like “Standing On The Solid Rock”, “When He Was On The Cross, I Was On His Mind”, “Lead Me To The Altar” and “I Lean On You Lord”, this legendary group has recorded some 100 albums and attained a following of devoted listeners, including the late Elvis Presley.
Get to know an outstanding newer vocalist in the industry, baritone singer Jimmy Reno, a little better in this article!
SGM- When I was talking to a couple of well known industry artists I know earlier this year, I mentioned coming to see the Florida Boys in concert and immediately they told me how impressive you were vocally and they weren’t sure where the Florida Boys found you but assured me I would be impressed with you and Joe Armstrong on bass. Can you share with us your journey to the legendary quartet?
JR- First, thank you so much for the kind words. I started out singing gospel music at 18 with some close friends of mine. Over the years I sang in mostly regional groups until I auditioned for the Mystery Men quartet. I was hired there as baritone and from there on to Mark209. Jym Howe with Mark209 gave me my start in the industry and I will forever be grateful for that.
My daughter became very ill in January of 2015 and the doctors believed she had a serious illness. Due to her medical issues, after much prayer, I felt it was best to step off the road and resigned my position. I honestly thought my music career was finished but compared to what we were dealing with, it honestly didn’t matter at the time. After 6 months it was eventually discovered my daughter had numerous small things going on that mimicked the more serious condition. After the proper medication she made a quick recovery and we were relieved and so very thankful. Right after this point, Joe Armstrong called me about an opening in the Florida Boys for a baritone vocalist and having sang with Joe in Mystery Men and Mark209, I jumped at the chance to sing again and to do it with a close friend. While I feared my music was over after my daughter recovered, God had other plans for me!
SGM- I wrote a Review of the Florida Boys two newest projects and was quiet impressed with both of them. In my opinion, you guys are the best lineup of talent the group has had since the early 2000’s. From the vocals of the group to the masterful emcee duties of Charles Waller, whose also in the hall of fame. What has it been like for you being apart of a quartet with this type of legacy?
JR- Its been very humbling for one thing. When I look back at the success the Florida Boys have had and some of the outstanding artists who have come through the group, voices like Glen Allred, George Younce, Les Beasley, Josh Garner, Gene McDonald, Billy Todd, Tommy Atwood and others it simply seems completely surreal to me. I’m very blessed to have this opportunity and very grateful to Charlie Waller for giving me the opportunity and you are right, Charlie can hold a crowds attention like no other.
SGM- Most artists have an individual or group that inspired them to sing growing up. Who was that for you?
JR- Growing up I listened to the Hinsons, Gold City, the Florida Boys and the Cathedrals. Kenny Hinson in particular made a huge impression on me as a child.
SGM- Did you aspire to sing southern gospel from an early age?
JR- I sang my first solo at the age of 4 years old. I grew up loving southern gospel and singing it is all I ever really wanted to do.
SGM- What is the biggest challenge for you in singing professionally?
JR- For all artists, traveling and being away from your family is a huge sacrifice. You have to have a support system and a spouse who supports what you’re doing 100 percent! I’m very blessed with a wife and children who love me and support my calling. But the time away from home to me is the biggest challenge.
SGM- You recorded a fantastic arrangement of I Met The Master with the Florida Boys and you sing the song with a lot of emotion and a nice smooth high vocal. It’s a very moving rendition of the song. Is that a significant song for you?
JR- That’s one of the first songs my Dad taught me as a child. I really wanted to record that for him. That arrangement was the original 1955 arrangement that Jake Hess recorded. Charlie Waller, our owner, figured there was no need in doing an updated arrangement when the original was that good. This song is definitely special to me.
SGM- For those interested in bringing the Florida Boys to their venue, who do they contact?
Editors note: Jimmy’s personal Facebook music page can be found at Jimmy Reno Official Facebook