About Us

The Social Security Boys are a Southern Gospel quartet currently comprised of Cecil Hinnant, James Austin , Tim Wells, Ed Little, and Mike Runyon, five energetic seniors still singing as they have done most of their adult lives. They have remarkably similar backgrounds, having been born and raised on eastern North Carolina farms. Unacquainted with each other at the time, they were intrigued by the sound of The Lone Star Quartet daily on a battery powered radio tuned to WPTF in Raleigh, NC and went back to the fields in the afternoon singing the songs they had heard. The Social Security Boys have been singing together since 2005 and combined, they have over 200 years of singing experience.

Through high school, college, and beyond, they began to sing with various quartets and further developed an appreciation for harmony, all the while being influenced by sounds heard in popular as well as gospel music. Some fans have offered them an unsolicited opinion that some of their harmony is reminiscent of The Mills Brothers.

Although gospel music has remained their paramount interest, each man presents an interesting resume in other areas. Cecil has advanced knowledge in the field of surveying and mapping, and rose to management positions with the Department of Transportation in North Carolina, where he retired after thirty-nine years of service. He has sung tenor for several quartets, the most recent being a late version of The Rangers Quartet. He is an active member of Selma Baptist Church in Selma, NC.

James has a diverse background having been a business owner, magistrate and mayor of Apex, NC, a rapidly growing town just west of Raleigh. He lists his musical highlights as being a church music director for twenty-three years and being a member of Carolina Royalty, a gospel quartet. During his years in the military he was a member of the Army Band. James is known by many students who have attended the Stamps Baxter School of Music as he has been involved in a supportive role at the school for the past thirty plus years. He is an active member of Salem Baptist Church in Apex, NC and became a member of The Social Security Boys in December 2007.

Tim Wells started filling in with the Social Security Boys in May, 2021 after James suffered a minor stroke and has been helping out ever since.  He is also a long time member of The King's Messengers Qt. who have been singing for over 50 years.

Edward Little (Ed) retired from the Johnston County Sheriff's Department as a Captain.  He began working with the  group in early 2022 as a sound engineer and has begun singing on every program since last Spring.  We are truly blessed to have him sharing his talents with us.

Mike Runyon is originally from Man, WV and was brought to North Carolina via the U.S. Air Force in 1987. He served in the Persian Gulf War in 1990-1991 in Desert Shield and Desert Storm.  He moved to Clayton, NC after serving and has called it home ever since.  He is a member of Princeton Church where he serves as the Tenor Section Leader for their choir and also serves on the Church and Pastors Council.  Mike loves the Lord and Southern Gospel Music.  He started with the group in March 2023.

Former members Walter Bass and Gary Burdette have now joined original founding member Vern Sullivan who went on to his ultimate reward on March 31, 2012 where we believe he may be sitting on the front porch of his mansion on Rainbow Avenue and occasionally tuning in to The Social Security Boys as they sing some of the songs he wrote. During his work career he was a parole officer and once held an administrative position with The Atomic Energy Commission. During the late nineteen-sixties and early seventies he pursued a career in popular music on the West Coast. His goals and objectives changed and in the mid nineteen-seventies he began to write songs about his new found Christian faith. At various times, Vern was a member of quartets that included some currently recognized personalities including McCray Dove, Tim Riley and Ed O'Neal. All four of his songs recorded by professional male quartets have been chart breakers and one of those four (Rainbow Avenue) was nominated Southern Gospel song of the year. The Social Security Boys have recorded fifteen of his songs.