The longtime leader of the Swan Silvertones, Claude Jeter towers among the most celebrated and influential gospel singers of the postwar era. While his silken falsetto inspired a generation of crossover soul superstars including Sam Cooke and Al Green, Jeter steadfastly refused to abandon spiritual music for secular fame and fortune, and in the latter decades of his life he shifted his focus away from performing in favor of the ministry. Jeter was born October 26, 1914, in Birmingham, AL. Following his attorney father's 1922 death, the family relocated to Kentucky, and by the time he was 14 Jeter was working in the coal mines of nearby Coalwood, WV, singing in his mother's church choir on weekends. In 1938 he teamed with some fellow miners to form the a cappella gospel quartet the Four Harmony Kings -- Jeter, a high tenor, assumed the majority of lead vocal duties, and while the group initially emphasized the short vocal phrasing, rich harmonies, and rapid tempos of the jubilee style, over time their repertoire expanded to embrace sentimental ballads and shout songs as well. The Four Harmony Kings quickly emerged as a fixture at weekend gospel gatherings across West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, and North Carolina -- in 1942, the quartet changed its name to the Silvertone Singers (to avoid conflict with a rival act) and relocated to Knoxville, TN, where the group regularly appeared on radio station WBIR's Sunday morning gospel program. The radio show was sponsored by the Swan Bakery Company -- at WBIR's suggestion, the group renamed itself the Swan Silvertones.