The Lewis Family is 3 generations of a musical family from Georgia. The Lewis Family is recognized as one of the most reputable music groups and has its place in Georgia’s Music Hall of Fame. This website is dedicated to the history of the 3 generations of this remarkable family.
How it started
Pop (Roy) and Mom (Pauline) Lewis formed The Lewis Family and were joined by many of their children. They had eight children: Miggie, Wallace, Esley, Mosley, Talmadge, Polly, Janis, and Roy (Little Roy) Lewis.
The family always enjoyed playing music together and continued to do so from the moment their kids were at a very young age. When son Wallace was 12, Mom Lewis taught him some guitar chords, and Little Roy started playing the banjo already when he was only 6 years old.
The musical group started out with the four brothers making music together under the name “the Lewis Brothers” until the year 1951 when father Roy and the daughters joined the group and they changed the group’s name to “The Lewis Family.” That name later became one of the most famous names in the world of gospel music.
The style of the Lewis Family was influenced by the legendary gospel music quartets that dominated in the ’40s and ’50s, but also great artists such as Martha Carson and the Chuckwagon Gang left their mark, though the Lewis Family definitely had a unique sound that was all their own.
The group’s musical DNA included a blazing banjo sound, performed by family comic and quick-fingered banjo master Little Roy, an impressive bass drum, and beautiful family vocal harmonies.
It wasn’t just their fantastic instrumental performance and consistent and strong vocal harmonies that led to the fame of the Lewis Family and distinguished them from other groups at that time. The group also included their down-to-earth humor, a gift that came naturally to them, and their onstage professional performances came with clear gospel messages in a unique combination of entertainment, ministry, and musical professionalism.
It was in and around their home state of Georgia that the Lewis Family became immensely popular and they became the inspiration for generations, young people keep asking “how can I get a career like the Lewis Family?” They are even part of many career quizzes and tests as they set such a great example for young people, and several career websites included The Lewis family career path in their suggestions.
Later in 1954, when they started to appear every week on WJBF-TV from Augusta, the group’s contagious musical gifted performances were heard all across the country and they became full-time professionals that began to tour all across America at bluegrass festivals and national gospel events.
For the subsequent nearly 40 years, the talented and hardworking family group appeared every Sunday on television while also keeping up with a highly demanding travel schedule, because there was hardly an invitation they turned down.
The Lewis Family continued to enjoy their career that lasted more than 60 years. There were some occasional personnel changes, and in the ’60s and ’70s, a few of Pop Lewis’ sons decided to pursue business careers rather than continuing life on the road, but by this time, daughters Polly, Miggie, and Janis had already stepped up, and in following years, also a few 3rd-generation family members joined the group when it was required.
The Lewis Family has recorded around 60 albums and showed up at prestigious venues like the Smithsonian Institute and the Lincoln Center. The group also was honored with several Dove Awards along with countless other music industry honors, and the Lewis Family was later also honored with a place in Georgia’s Music Hall of Fame. Pop Lewis was also honored with a spot in the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
Among the offspring of the highly talented Lewis Family are Sheri Easter who continued to pursue their own musical success and little Roy, who has been performing in the Bluegrass circuit practically every weekend as “Little Roy Lewis and Lizzy Long Show” since the retirement of the Lewis Family.
Another example that keeps the legacy alive is “The Lewis Tradition”, a bluegrass group that includes some Lewis Family members. They show up each year at select events to continue the rich legacy that Pop and Mom Lewis started over half a century way back. In 2010, Janis (youngest daughter of Mom and Pop) together with her son Lewis Phillips, Travis Lewis (son of the late Wallace Lewis), and Jameson Lewis (Travis Lewis’ son) performed under the name Lewis Tradition.
In 1935, the historic home of the Lewis Family was constructed by Pop Lewis, and it was the birthplace to several of the Lewis family children. Currently, the house is being reconstructed as a landmark to honor the heritage of the Lewis Family and the love they always displayed for bluegrass gospel music.
The Lewis Family was “America’s First Family of Bluegrass Gospel Music” for over five decades, and after a career of some 58 years, the group retired in 2009. The group’s farewell performance was in October 2009 at The Lewis Family Pavilion in Lincolnton, Georgia.
Pauline “Mom” Lewis passed away on February 8, 2003, and patriarch Roy “Pop” Lewis died at age 98 on March 23, 2004. The Lewis Family (the 3 generations group) continued to give concerts until the fall of 2009 when the group officially retired.
In early 2010, a resolution commending and recognizing the Lewis Family was adopted by Georgia’s State Senate. The resolution commended the distinguished Georgia family for their extraordinary accomplishments and the individual group members for their exemplary musical careers.
It is now 2017, and the members of the legendary Lewis Family feel honored to be inducted into the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame and The Georgia Hall of Fame. Their career is a benchmark for many young musicians and a subject of desire and inspiration for students, also for non-traditional students.
The Gospel Music Hall of Fame and Museum is a nonprofit educational institution that works closely together with the Gospel Music Association (GMA). The Gospel Music Hall of Fame is committed to promoting the recognition and appreciation of the important development through our history of the world of gospel music and how it affected our culture and communities.
The Gospel Music Hall of Fame and Museum collects, preserves, displays, and interprets the collections is has for all sorts of audiences from all across the planet. The institution is educating through workshops and lessons and is honoring all individuals who were of historical significance and made unique contributions to the world of gospel music.
1925 • Roy Lewis and Pauline Holloway secretly get married
1940’s • Roy and Pauline Lewis’ four out of eight children start a singing group named the Lewis Brothers