In 1902 James D. Vaughan moved his family to Lawrenceburg, Tn. from Giles County Co., Tn. where he was a teacher. And short while later he opened his publishing house on the Public Square in Lawrenceburg to furnish a complete gospel music service.
The Vaughan Music Company published his first song book ”Gospel Chimes”, in 1900. Business grew steadily and in 1909 he sold 30,000 songbooks. James D. came up with an idea in May 1910 to promote the books, and the first professional all-male Southern Gospel Quartet in America hit the road. The first year on the road the Quartet doubled sales of songbooks to 60,000. The next year they sold 75,000 and in 1912 they sold 85,000. In 1911, Vaughan started the famed “Vaughan School of Music.” Each year students came from across the United States to study rudiments, harmony, sight-singing, class directing, and participate in private lessons for piano and voice.
In 1912 Mr. Vaughan also published the monthly Newsletter called “The Vaughan’s Family Vistor”, to announce new books and singing schools. One of Lawrence County newspapers went out of business and Mr. Vaughan took it over and began weekly publications of “The Lawrence News” on October 1, 1919. He pioneered in mass media, opening Tennessee’s first radio station, “WOAN”, (“Watch Our Annual Normal”) in 1922, for the purpose of spreading his music. The station operated for two years with 150-watt transmitters used during the session of the Vaughan School of Music received by thirty-five states and Canada. On January 1, 1925 WOAN was stepped-up to 500 watts. WOAN divided time with Nashville’s WSM with it on the same dial reading. Later WSM received full time on the dial when WOAN was discontinued.
In 1921 he started the first Southern based Record Company, “Vaughan Phonograph Records.” The first song recorded was “I Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray,” and on the other side was “Look For Me,” written by V.O. Stamps, who worked for Vaughan until he started the successful Stamps Music Company.
Another aspect of James D. Vaughan’s music business was the promotion of the Vaughan Singing Convention or The National Gospel Singing Conventionthat had its beginning during the 1936 session of the Alabama State Singing Convention. Which still meets once a year in different states.
During the years, Mr. Vaughan wrote the words or music to many beautiful gospel songs; some remembered best:
“Lead Me Shepherd”; “He Will Carry Us Safety Home”; “Will The Circle Be Unbrokern”; “God Shall Wipe All Tears Away”; “I Will Meet My Preciuos Mother” ; “ Gathering Buds”; “ I Feel Like Traveling On”; “ The Best Of All” ; “ Some Day I’ll Have A Home”; “ If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again,” “The Old Country Church,” “ I Know ‘Tis So”; “ I’m Glad To Say I’m On My Way”; “ God Holds The Future In His Hands” ; “ Do You Know Him,” “The Same Old Story” and “I Dreamed I Searched Heaven For You.”
After Mr. Vaughan’s death in 1941 his son, Kieffer, took over his father’s business and the company lived on through Vaughan’s books in the same seven-shape note system.
Other noticed songwriters and composers with the Vaughan Publishing Company and School were:
Adger M. Pace with songs; “Just A Closer Walk With The”; “I Can Tell You The Time” ;“He’s The Best Friend I Ever Had”; “Peace, Sweet Peace,: and “We’ll Understand It Better By and By.”
G.T. Speers: “I Want To Be Ready To Meet Him”; “The Old Gospel Ship” ;“When I Kneel To Pray” and “Heaven Jubilee.”
Virgil O Stamps: “It’s Well With My Soul” ; “Look For Me” and “Dreaming Alone In The Twilight”
G.Kieffer Vaughan: “When We Look On His Face”; “And When The Eventide Comes.”
James D. Walbert: “Look Away To Jesus”; “I’ll See And Know My King” and “Only a Step.”
B.W. Walbert: “He Broke The Chains”; “Oh What A Blessing He Is To Me” and “Hallelujah, He Is Mine.”
J.W. Vaughan: “In The Morning Bright And Fair”; “If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again”and “When The Evening Shadows Fall.”
Charles W. Vaughan: “I’ve Had A Talk With Jesus” ;“Do You Know Him” and “When I Get To Heaven.”
From “Who’s Who” “Amont Southern Singers and Composers” by Ottis J. Knippers :
Dwight M. Brock; L.O. Brock; Roy L. Collins; The Denson Trio; Cecil C. and Ottis J. Knippers; Alphus LeFevre; Otis L. McCoy; J. Raymond Parker; James Rowe; James P. Waits.
With such Quartets as: The Brock, Denson, Hood, Jennings, Speer and Vaughan Quartets traveling and singing Southern Gospel Music. These are only a few of the great singers,writers and composers that were associated with the Vaughan Organization.
Members of Vaughan’s Normal School Class of 1922:
J.E. Beckett, H.G. Shirey, Mack Hooks, F.X. Trigg, L.O. Prater, T.H. Stephens, W.A. Wheeler, C.A. Glover, Martin S. Smith, Van Jones, E.R. Duffer, W.L. Wooten, Johnie Bailey, W.J. Bracker, Jack Edwards, Lonnie Sims, D.T. Bishop, J.E. Martin, D.S. Howell, George Sullivan, Eugene Dawson, Justus Brewer, Harvey Duffer, Veron Leonard, J. E. Palsner, Basil Glover, Earl Coffey, J.M. Coffey, Carl Lavderdale, S.J. Pinston, T.L Crenshaw, C.L. Hitt , Arthur J. Pruitt, C.F .Williams, Ben Watson, Rev. S.A. Gaby, D.A. Parris, Tom Cole, Charlie N. Clark, Oron Hood, Fred Cathey, J.F. McCathy, Russell Howell, Bessie Sweet, Louvillie Lynn, Lucile Loval, Mrs. W.W. Combs, Jones Woody, W.E. Gordon, Loyd Braser, Prestley Miller, Hutie Bishop, G.E. Shaffer, Claud Richerdson, T.D. Vaughan, Edd Brown, J.W. Fowler, R.E. Freeman, Roy Barler, J.T. Speakman, A. A. Robertson, E.C. Roberts, Thoams Stochton, R.R Pollock, H. Barnart, Walter B Scale, James Depew, W.W. Combs, B.C. Unseld, J.G. Vaughan, V.O.Stamps, and 12 unnamed.
Members of Vaughan Normal School 1932:
J.D. Vaughan, G.K. Vaughan, C.W. Vaughan, A.M. Pace, W.B. Walbert, Hilman Barnard, Albert Roberson, Omar Allen, Mrs. Omar Allen, Mrs. G.P. Woodward, G.P. Woodward, J.F. Baker, Miss Waudie Calvert, Archies Harbin, L.M. Harbin, Watson, James D. Walbert, B. Speakman, Gladys Freeman, E. Treptan, Stacy Abner, E. J. Conley, Elton Stephenson, Theo Powell, Miss Odie Comer, Eugene Waldrum, Tom Speer, J.P. Thompson, Ottis Knipper, Cecil Knipper, Cullie Wilson, Selvin Whitaker, Miss Clara Brewer, Quinn Flougher, Bob Alford, Marshall Clayton, Miss Audrie L. Calvert, W. Chupp, Arthur Watson, Miss Allene Marshall, Luther Dillmore, P.B. Gilmore, Claud Roberts, Wright Echols, I. Hucaby, Miss Anges Trepta, Ethridge Warhurst, Gordon Cleaton, Miss Della Gobble, Scott Jones, Austin Morris, Violet Stephenson, Mc White, M.Odom, Mitchell, Nettie Wynn, E. Deraughn, E. McCullar, C. Pope, Van Jones and 7 unnamed.