Best-known for their hit recording of "Shoutin' Time," the family Southern gospel group the Hoppers formed all the way back in the '70s, performed at the Ronald Reagan religious inaugural ceremony in 1981, but didn't find their greatest popular success until the '90s. Formed by Claude Hopper, along with his wife Connie in their native North Carolina, the Hoppers began to hit their stride as a family performing unit in 1981, when their oldest son and drummer, Dean, became a frequent lead vocalist. Meanwhile, their youngest son, Mike, became the new drummer at the tender age of 13, and the Hoppers won two consecutive Mixed Vocal Group awards at the Southern Gospel Music Awards in 1982-1983. In 1988, Dean married singer Kim Greene, who had previously performed for ten years in her own family gospel group, the Greenes; she officially joined the Hoppers in 1989 and became perhaps their most recognizable voice. In 1990, the Hoppers scored their first major hit single with "Here I Am," touching off a long string of successes that also included "Milk and Honey," "Mention My Name," "Anchor to the Power of the Cross," "Heavenly Sunrise," "That's Him," and "Yes I Am." In the midst of that string in 1996, Mike Hopper's new wife Denice joined the group as a pianist. While the Hoppers were already enjoying success on the traditional gospel circuit, their 1998 recording of the traditional number "Shoutin' Time" took their career to a whole new level; performed on a video documentation of that year's Gaither Homecoming Tour, the song became a smash hit. Riding its momentum, the Hoppers dominated the Southern Gospel Music Awards (especially the mixed-group categories) for several years afterwards.
The Hoppers continued to perform on the Gaither Homecoming Tour; Claude and Dean both serving on the board of directors for the North Carolina Gospel Music Hall of Fame, while Mike has dabbled in acting with an appearance on the TV show Touched By an Angel. In 2000, the Hoppers signed a new record deal with Spring Hill, debuting with the album Power; compilations of their early-'90s work for Sonlite (two volumes of Timepieces) and the late-'90s years on Homeland (Shoutin' Time: Best of the Hoppers) are available for newcomers to catch up. ~ Steve Huey
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