Bro. Jessie Samuels Memorial Page

March 19, 1935 – July 18, 2008


Play: “Radio Angels” by Paul Porter and the Christianaires


Bro. Jessie was one of eight children, the eldest son, born to the parentage of the late John and Lillie Samuels in Mansfield, Louisiana. He was preceded in death by one sister, Earline Samuels Newton and one brother, Bobby Samuels.


As a young boy, Bro. Jessie spent most of his time working in the fields with his father. In 1951, at the age of 16 and with the encouragement of his mother, Bro. Jessie decided to move to Leesville, Louisiana in pursuit of starting a new life with his oldest sister, Maggie. Upon his arrival, he learned that Maggie was no longer in the city, so he decided to travel to Port Arthur, Texas with his cousin, Fred Samuels. After a short stay, Fred moved back to Louisiana; however, Bro. Jessie decided to remain. During this time, Bro. Jessie became acquainted with the Keys family, who took him into their home and treated him like their own son.


In 1952, Bro. Jessie formed a Gospel Quartet, known as the Wandering Gospel Singers. Members included Charlie Roy, William Gant, Harold Van Wright, “Bruce” Broussard and Herman Samuels, as well as, Bro. Jessie. Bro. Jessie sang bass in the group. In addition, he served as the manager and spokesperson. As the manager, Bro. Jessie booked programs for the group and promoted other major gospel artists. The very first gospel group promoted by Bro. Jessie (through the Wandering Gospel Singers) was Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers.


Every Sunday, the group sang at KJET Radio Station during a 15 minute live broadcast due to the efforts of Bro. Jessie. The group was in need of someone to introduce each song selection and Bro. Jessie was their man. Members of the group state that Bro. Jessie was chosen to be spokesman because he had charisma and a way with words. This task allowed Bro. Jessie the opportunity to hone his speaking gift. In 1962, the group disbanded, but Bro. Jessie decided to keep the 15 minute live broadcast, changing the format from singing to disc jockeying.


Bro. Jessie began his professional employment at Texaco Refinery as a contract worker in the early 60’s; however, this did not prevent him from following his love of gospel music and promotion and continuing the work part-time. In the mid 80’s, Bro. Jessie was laid off from his job as a supervisor with Texaco, but what the devil meant for evil, God made good! This layoff provided Bro. Jessie the opportunity to work in his calling full-time, as a Gospel Promoter and DJ for the Golden Triangle (Beaumont, Port Arthur & Orange). Bro. Jessie promoted major and local artists such as Joe Ligon and the Mighty Clouds of Joy, Shirley Caesar and the Caesar Singers, James Cleveland and the Cleveland Singers, The Sensational Nightingales, The Violinaires, Willie Neal Johnson and the Gospel Keynotes, The Williams Brothers, The Jackson Southernaires, The Swan Silvertones, The Wonderful Harmonizers, The Voices of Faith, The New Chosens, The Angelics, The Silver Wings and The Savoy Singers, to name a few. In addition to promoting, Bro. Jessie continued disc-jockeying as well. After a long tenure at KJET Radio Station, Bro. Jessie also served at other radio stations such as KALO, KDLF and The Light 1510, where he served as Program Director.


Bro. Jessie was an innovator and God gave him the desire to produce new ways of bringing the community together as one. Through this desire, Bro. Jessie partnered with the late Rev. Dr. Ransom Howard and together they provided travel opportunities for the community to various conferences and events held throughout the country. Through that same idiom, choir workshops were infused into Bro. Jessie’s ministry, directed by great names such as Kurt Carr, Timothy Wright and Steve Lawrence, to name a few.


In 2003, Representative Joseph Deshotel recognized Bro. Jessie’s community service in the entertainment arena by honoring him at the Texas Legislative Black Caucus. Bro. Jessie was very proud to have been selected and named as an honoree.


Bro. Jessie was united in marriage with Nora Bell Thomas on November 12, 1960 and to this union three children were born, Jacquelyne, Jessie, Jr. and Patricia. Bro. Jessie leaves a legacy of love for his wife and children, and also his three sisters, Maggie B. Smith (Leesville, Louisiana), Margaret Jones (Houston, Texas) and Vallie Massey (Houston, Texas); two brothers, Willie J. Samuels (Los Angeles, California) and Theodore Samuels (Mansfield, Louisiana); sisters-in-law, Joyce Samuels (Houston, Texas) and Deborah Thomas (Port Arthur, Texas); a brother-in-law, Willie Thomas (Port Arthur, Texas); a play sister Tommiesazine Keys Louviere; special cousins Herman and Julia Samuels; two granddaughters and a host of other relatives and friends.


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