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LISTEN: This ’40s gospel singer with loud, soaring vocals kept quiet about one thing

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This singer’s high-flying gospel vocals enthralled the public, but it wasn’t until his passing decades later that fans would learn what he’d long kept private.Houston natives Willmer Broadnax and his brother William sang together in different gospel groups throughout the ’30s and ’40s.

The pair came to be known as “Little Axe” and “Big Axe” for their respective sizes.What Willmer lacked in stature, he more than exceeded on stage; according to music critic Ray Foster, “his voice is sweet, but almost vicious, dripping with emotion.”After the brothers decided to split ways creatively, Willmer kept his “Little Axe” persona in performing.

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