The concept of the Composers grew out the Royal Crusade Quartet of The Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church in the McComb, Mississippi community of Algiers in the late 60s. The group sang Quartet Gospel at church related functions but on the street corners of Algiers, they sang Do Wap to cuts like the Temptations “My Girl” and many others. The original group members were Jesse Thompson, Joe Don Carroll, Johnny Carroll, George Perry Ashley and Louis Simmons.
In the summer of 1968, the group added a rhythm section; A.C. Butler (Bass), Johnny Frank Leggett (Guitar) and Wilbert Gayden (Drums). The group’s performances were so well received locally, they travel to Jackson, Mississippi and made a television appearance on the popular “Jobie Martin Show”.
In January of 1970, the group made significant changes by replacing a number of the singers and one musician. The new group consisted of singers, Joe Don Carroll, Jesse Thompson, James Staples and Johnny Byrd, and musicians, A.C Butler (Bass), Johnny Frank Leggett (Guitar) and Howard Levite (Drums & Singer). The group changed its name to the “Uniques”. The group performed in the west Jackson area and on the campus of Jackson State University. For a short period of time, Tyrone McCall (Singer), Vernon Steve Weakley (Saxophone), Danny Moses (Singer),Chico Johnson (Guitar) and Catherine Henderson (Singer Soloist) were group members.
In January of 1971, Willie Ray Norwood became the lead singer of the group. The group performed in clubs around Jackson, MS but mostly at a club called the “Carousel”. The group became so attached to this venue that it changed its name to “The Carousels” which consisted of members, A.C. Butler (Bass), Howard Levite (Drums & Singer)), Johnny Frank Leggett (Guitar), Joe Don Carroll (Singer), Jesse Thompson (Singer), James Staples (Singer), Johnny Byrd (Singer) and Willie Ray Norwood (Singer).
In 1971, the group made more changes in personnel by adding Colonzo May (Marimbas & Keyboards), Hugh Addison (Guitar), Tommy Armstrong (Organ), Lamar Barnes (Saxophone), and Leroy Johnson (MC & Sound Engineer). Other group members were A.C. Butler (Bass), Howard Levite (Drums), Jesse Thompson (Singer), James Staples (Singer) and Willie Norwood (Singer). The group made its last name change that spring. After much discussion and the recommendation of Willie Ray Norwood, the group accepted the name of “The Composers”. The group made a name for itself throughout the state by playing Clubs, Ballrooms and College campuses. The group made appearance in Alabama, Louisiana and Michigan.
Joe Coleman (Trumpet), Tyrone Hart (Saxophone), Quinous Johnson (Drums) and Lindsey Brooks (Singer) were added to the group in the fall of 1972. The Composers continued to perform in night clubs, on college campuses, and concerts venues. They also made performances in Los Angeles, California and Grand Rapids Michigan. The Composers were a regular attraction at the popular Club Checkmate in Jackson, MS. The group’s final members were Jesse Thompson, A.C. Butler, Howard Levite, Willie Ray Norwood, Hugh Addison, Leroy Johnson, Lamar Barnes, Quinous Johnson, Lindsey Brooks and Joe Coleman.