The Social Security Boys are a Southern Gospel quartet currently comprised of Cecil Hinnant, James Austin , Walter Bass and Gary Burdette, four 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.
Walter has spent his entire career in sales. He joined his first singing group in 1973 and in 1975, along with close friend, Clyde Sorrell, formed a new quartet, The Sentinels. Enjoying several years with this group, they decided to take a short break in the mid 1980s. In 1990, Clyde and Walter, with a burning desire to minister again, formed another quartet known as Legacy. Clyde retired in 2000 due to health issues and Walter retired from Legacy in 2010. Walter is married to Cecilia (Cile). He has two sons, two wonderful daughters in law and four beautiful grandchildren. The Social Security Boys welcomed Walter and his family to the group in July 2019.
Gary is originally from West Virginia where he learned to love gospel quartet music at an early age. After moving to North Carolina, he sang bass with a number of Southern Gospel quartets including The Anchormen, The Rangers Quartet (where he first met Cecil), The Royal Descendants, and many others. Gary joined the Social Security Boys in May 2021.
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.