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Benson gets gospel award

Chilton County native Troy Benson received the Truman Glassco Memorial Award at the 2008 Alabama State Gospel Singing Convention recently.

The award, named for the late president of the Alabama School of Gospel Music in Boaz, is given annually to people who demonstrate faithful and outstanding service for promoting gospel singing.

Gospel music has always been part of Benson’s life, particularly the convention-type singing with its distinct four-part harmonies. According to his wife, Jo, he “was born into it.”

“It was a gratifying and humbling experience to get this award, especially following in the footsteps of Truman Glassco,” Benson said. “A lot of people out there would be worthy of it.”

Growing up in the Union Grove community, Benson started playing piano at age 12 and attended Rocky Mount United Methodist Church. His piano teacher was James D. Walbert, whom he recalls as “one of the best.” Benson went on to attend conservatory at Birmingham-Southern for a couple of years.

For about 20 years, he was pianist for the gospel quartet The Keymasters, and to this day he plays the organ at Rocky Mount.

Benson’s home church hosts convention-type singings four times yearly, and these events continue to be well attended.

Recent accomplishments include serving as second vice president for the Alabama State Gospel Singing Convention, and as president of the Birmingham-Jefferson County Gospel Singing Convention. The latter position is one Benson still holds.

“I support him fully in this,” Jo said.

Benson is the second Chilton County native to receive the Truman Glassco Award in just two years. Last year, local gospel songwriter William Heaps of Clanton was selected to receive the award.

The Bensons live in Vestavia Hills and have two adult daughters and three grandchildren.