BORN: January 9, 1927 in Roxboro, North Carolina
FAMILY: wife, Hazel; children, David, Mike & Amanda
This five-time Dove Award-winning piano player, singer, songwriter, arranger and publisher travelled over 65,000 miles per year for more than five decades, spreading the good news in song. Loved by audiences and peers alike, Henry Slaughter has followed in the footsteps of his own heroes—Lee Roy Abernathy, Frank Stamps, Vep Ellis, James Blackwood, Audrey Meier and Albert Brumley, to name just a few. He will go down in gospel music history as one of the industry’s premier keyboard artists.
Henry Slaughter grew up in the country on a North Carolina tobacco farm. He began his journey with Christ at an early age and, even while he was still a kid, he knew he wanted to serve his Savior through music. He nurtured his musical gifts throughout his childhood and studied the music of that time. He was particularly drawn to the quartet music that was sweeping the southeastern United States during his growing up years. But, unlike many eager young artists, Henry never forced his way into an opportunity. He focused on building his skills and allowed Christ to lead his steps. He took to heart the “gospel” in “gospel music” and his priority was always following Christ first, and career came after that.
Apparently the Lord did an outstanding job of guiding Slaughter’s career steps and honoring his trust. Henry had opportunities to play with gospel music’s most-loved groups—groups he had loved for years. During the 1940s, he traveled with the Stamps-Ozark Quartet, then in the 1950s he joined the Weatherfords and played for Rex Humbard. In the 1960s, he was part of the Imperials, then in the 1970s he sang with the Bill Gaither Trio, Jimmy Swaggart and eventually began traveling and performing with his talented wife, Hazel.
In 2006, after decades of faithful service to the gospel music community, Henry Slaughter was inducted into the Southern Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame. Among his many accomplishments, his songwriting contributions include such gospel classics such as “I’ve Never Loved Him Better Than Today,” “Lonely Mile,” “What a Precious Friend is He” and “If the Lord Wasn’t Walking By My Side.”
Henry’s life story, chronicled in his 1980 autobiography, In Search of the Pearl of Great Price, is far more than a story about his international recognition, awards and showmanship. The book takes you back to his roots and details not only his career, but his spiritual pilgrimage and the relationships that made him the man he has become. Today, more than 30 years after it was published, the book can be found on Amazon.com. He also published a number of piano courses and songbooks throughout his career.
Today, Henry and Hazel reside in Tennessee and he writes a column for mybestyears.com called “I Remember” where he chronicles his rich reservoir of memories during the past seven decades. He tells stories and recounts the histories of important people who impacted his music and the gospel music industry as a whole. His writing style is warm, personal and infused with gratitude as he continues to keep gospel music history alive.
With all those years of faithfulness and hard work behind him, much good can be said of Henry Slaughter, but Bill Gaither wraps up so much with this one sentence: “I don’t have a better friend than my dear friend, Henry.”
• Published his critically acclaimed autobiography, In Search of the Pearl of Great Price (1980)
• Inducted into the Southern Gospel Piano Roll of Honor(1996)
• Inducted into the Southern Gospel Music Association Hall of FameSongwriters Hall of Fame (2006)