WHO WE ARE
CAROLINA began in mid-2006 following the official retirement of the Melody Masters Quartet, a name synonymous with quality southern gospel music. Legendary names such as James “Big Chief” Wetherington, Jake Hess, and Wally Varner were Melody Masters whose tradition had been carried on by Scott Whitener, Roger Burnett, and Chris Roberts in a very popular and critically-acclaimed version of MMQ in the late 1990’s. One by one, MMQ members began leaving the road and following a brief Melody Masters reunion tour in 2004-2005, Scott, Roger and Chris decided to launch a new endeavor.
Today CAROLINA performs in all types of venues and outdoor events, even appearing with Elvis from time-to-time as J.D. Sumner and the Stamps. Their sound is characterized by rich harmonies, their music is absorbed in solid and meaningful lyrics, and their style and presentation is synonymous with many of the great quartet vocal groups.
CAROLINA will challenge and strengthen your trust in God as they share the love of Jesus Christ in a celebration of our faith, family, and freedom. Make plans to hear them soon!
Thank you to Charlie Griffin for his contribution to the individual descriptions below.
The group’s sound is defined by the recognizable lead voice of Scott Whitener. Now, Whitener is no stranger to gospel music. His first singing experience was with the church trio where his dad pastored. He was an influential member of the regional powerhouse quartet the Regals for many years. In 1987, he joined the awardwinning Singing Americans. His dynamic voice and interpretations really grabbed the attention of Gospel Music fans in this time.
After leaving the Singing Americans, Whitener also sang lead with Jericho – which was formed along with Dwayne Burke of the Singing Americans – until 1996. This group was recognized for their smooth, focused vocals in a church ministry setting.
Subsequently, Whitener transitioned to the Melody Masters in the mid-1990s as lead singer. During that time, the group lineup of Chris Roberts, Whitener, Roger Burnett, and Richard Sanders achieved success with performances at the National Quartet Convention and the Canadian version of the NQC, which was held in Canada’s in Red Deer, Alta.
As in life, things come full circle. After more than 20 years in full time Gospel Music, Whitener is now an ordained minister, serving as senior pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Gastonia, N.C., and as lead pastor of Gateway Cowboy Church in Stanley, N.C. A graduate of Southern Wesleyan (S.C.) University and Wesleyan Fellowship of Leaders Acquiring Ministerial Education (FLAME), when you talk with Whitener you understand his philosophy of life. “I am a simple guy, a husband, a singer and pastor,” Whitener explains. “I love blue jeans, T-shirts, boots and buckles. I love my friends. I can’t stand fake stuff or people. Just be real. I am blessed with Gospel Music, but I am more blessed with the love of Christ I experience every day.”
Nobody sings tenor any better than Chris Roberts. He is able to interpret and deliver a ballad or barn-burner song with spirit, power and finesse. His first Gospel Music experience came at the ripe age of four, singing with his mom and dad in church. Singing just came naturally to him growing up in the church. Later on, Roberts sang with the Chapel Grove Quartet, while serving as minister of music at Chapel Grove Baptist Church. His vocal credits also include singing with the Gardner-Webb (N.C.) University group Cornerstone. In 1996, he joined the Melody Masters Quartet, playing piano. He later began singing tenor after the retirement of Jim McAbee. With the transition to Carolina Quartet, Roberts is in his 14th year as pastor of worship and music at the 3,000-member Mud Creek Baptist Church in Hendersonville, N.C. He holds degrees from Gardner-Webb (a bachelor of arts in sacred music/1986/summa cum laude), the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (masters of church music/1988), and the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies (doctorate of worship studies/2015). In addition to local church ministry, Roberts currently serves as professor of music at Fruitland Baptist Bible College in Hendersonville, a position he has held since 2006. “I love the blessings God has given me,” Roberts shares. “From the ministry of the church to singing with Carolina, it is exciting for me to see just how being available and using God-given talents can affect lives. Over the years, we have seen the lasting effects of our sharing Christ’s positive message.”
Making his debut with Country Gospel music audiences is Chris Parker of York, S.C., whose rich bass vocals provide the foundation of the Carolina Quartet sound. Parker has made an immediate impact on the friends and fans of the group. His energetic style is a refreshing addition to an already stellar lineup. Parker succeeded Lamar Levi, who stepped down after 10 years with the group. Parker’s Gospel Music background starts with family. In the 1980's he played drums with his dad’s group, the Sojourners. Then, he played a variety of music styles over the years. However, most recently, he sang with his father again in Arise Quartet from the Raleigh, N.C., area. Gospel Music fans will also be familiar with Chris’ uncles, Dove Award-winning vocalist Ivan Parker and Danny Parker of the legendary Harvesters Quartet.
Parker is quick to point out his love of music and how it affects the generations. “With the Carolina Quartet, we can really do some great Southern Gospel music, but it’s the group’s ability to pull from inspirational Country Music that allows us to sing a positive message to so many people today in so many different places,” Parker explains. “From a church to fairs, street concerts or festivals, it is amazing to see how many people respond. This is an exciting time for me.”
Our newest member Riley Dotson comes from Dickson, TN. He has roots in bluegrass from when his father played bluegrass gospel with a group called "The New Tradition". His mother buck danced on the grand ole Opry as well so he loves the old feel of bluegrass music. He was introduced to southern gospel at around 12 years old. Ever since he has wanted to share the gospel in his own way and being with Carolina, there couldn't be a more genuine way of sharing the Word. Riley states how he feels about being with Carolina: "I am so ecstatic to work with these fine men of God. They will be great friends for a very long time and I cant wait to see what God has in store for us!"