Jake Hess was born on Christmas Eve 1927 in Pisgah, Alabama. His singing career started when he was 16 years old. In 1948, he joined The Statesmen Quartet as lead singer. He was the lead singer off and on for 20 years, the longest of any of their lead singers. Jack Toney was the second longest at approximately 12 years total with the group.
Jake was part of the perfect quartet made up of Denver Crumpler (tenor), Jake Hess (lead), Doy Ott (baritone), and Jim "Big Chief" Wetherington (bass). Hovie Lister was the founder of the group as well as the wild piano man.
Jake went off on his own for awhile forming the group called The Imperials. They also sang with Elvis. It is said that Jake was Elvis' favorite singer. It is also said that Elvis patterned leg shaking after Big Chief, but his singing style after Jake Hess.
This video, in my opinion, is one of the best at showcasing Jake's strong voice.
This Old House
The following video is from Jake's final project. It was released on 19 August 2003. Jake died 4 January 2004 in Opelika, Alabama. He is buried in Juniper, Georgia in the Buck Family Cemetery.
Gotta Get a God Said
Find a Grave
Wikipedia - The Statesmen
Wikipedia - Jake Hess