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Willmer M. Broadnax (December 28, 1916 – June 1, 1992), also known as "Little Ax", "Wilbur", "Willie", and "Wilmer", was an American hard gospel quartet singer.
Broadnax was born in Houston, Texas in 1916, William Broadnax and Gussie Frazier.
After moving to southern California in the mid-1940s, Wilmer and brother, William, joined the Southern Gospel Singers, a group which performed primarily on weekends. Wilmer and William soon formed their own quartet, the Golden Echoes. William eventually left for Atlanta, where he joined the Five Trumpets, but Willmer stayed on as lead singer. In 1949 the group, augmented by future Soul Stirrer Paul Foster, recorded a single of "When the Saints Go Marching In" for Specialty Records. Label chief Art Rupe decided to drop them before they could record a follow-up, and shortly thereafter the Golden Echoes disbanded.
In 1950, Broadnax joined the Spirit of Memphis Quartet. Along with Broadnax, the group featured two other leads -- Jethro "Jet" Bledsoe, a bluesy crooner, and Silas Steele, an overpowering baritone. The Spirit of Memphis Quartet recorded for King Records, and Broadnax appeared on their releases at least until 1952. Shortly after that, Broadnax moved on, working with The Fairfield Four, and in the early 1960s as one of the replacements for Archie Brownlee in the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi. Until 1965 Wilmer headed a quartet called "Little Ax and the Golden Echoes," which released some singles on Peacock Records. By then, quartet singing was fading in commercial viability, and Broadnax retired from touring.
In retirement, Broadnax continued to record new material occasionally with the Blind Boys into the 1970s and 1980s.
Upon Broadnex's death in 1992, it was discovered that Broadnax was a trans man.
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