Currently, The Social Security Boys are often featured on the Great American Gospel television show airing weekly on DayStar, Inspiration Network, TCT television and others. Check your local provider for airtimes or visit www.greatamericangospel.tv/ for a complete listing of the show times. Also, please visit our Contact Us/Links page for a direct link to the program listings.
The Social Security Boys are a Southern Gospel trio currently comprised of Cecil Hinnant, James Austin and Earl Franks, three 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 150 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 eighteen 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.
Earl was raised in a Christian family, his dad pastoring churches for over sixty years. He began his singing career at the early age of four, when his dad would call him onto the stage and have him sing in the worship services. He has a background with several Southern Gospel quartets including The Messengers, The Chordsmen, The King's Messengers, and more recently The Royal Descendants. In the eighties, Earl formed a group consisting of young people called The New World Singers. He has served as Music Director in several churches over the past forty years. He is currently a member of Everett Chapel FWB Church in Clayton, NC where he serves on the deacon board. He is retired after thirty-six years of service from North Carolina State University and we welcomed him as a member of The Social Security Boys in May of 2012.
Original founding member Vern Sullivan 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.