Let’s Sing It Again! – Sailing Away & Interview with Roger Horne

I’ve been thinking about some new features for the blog, and I came up with the idea of featuring songs that in my opinion have been forgotten about, and revisiting them. Also, if possible, interviewing the songwriter and finding out more about the song. I’m calling the segment, “Let’s Sing It Again!”.  When I first started thinking about songs I wanted to feature, the very first song that came to my mind is a song entitled “Sailing Away”, written by Roger Horne, 

The name Roger Horne should be familiar to you if you’ve followed Gospel Music for a number of years. Roger began his singing career in 1969 with The Gospel Harmony Boys, singing with them up to 1971, when he joined the Cathedral Quartet. Roger’s tenure with the Cathedrals was short, he departed in 1972, but recorded a couple of albums with the group (Request Time & Welcome To Our World), that are still much in demand today. For those of you, like me, who never heard Roger sing with the Cathedrals, here they are singing a song Roger wrote, “He’ll Soon Be Here”.

Upon leaving the Cathedrals, Roger formed his own group, The Roger Horne Trio, and also went on to sing with the Scenicland Boys and Jerry & The Singing Goffs. Not only was Roger a marvelous tenor singer, but he also made quite a name for himself as a talented songwriter. Not only the Cathedrals, but the Kingsmen, Downings, and Goodmans all recorded songs written by Roger. Some of Roger’s most popular songs are “We Shall See Heaven Someday” (Gold City & Booth Brothers) and “Jesus, Have Mercy On Me”, one of my favorite Cathedrals songs.

I first heard “Sailing Away” as a teenager, sang by The Hutson Sisters (daughters of Dr. Curtis Hutson). The song was originally recorded by The Old Time Gospel Hour Trio on their The Lamb Has Prevailed album in 1990 (which is available digitally on iTunes).  However it was not until 2010, when i saw this video of the Original Greater Vision singing this song, that I fell in love with this song. It was recorded on one of their first projects “You Can Have A Song” (which was re-released in 2010, be looking for it as a download from GV in the near future).

When I had the idea to feature “Sailing Away”, I wanted to track Roger down and interview him, which I was so fortunate to do. Roger took a few moments to talk with me, and I really thoroughly enjoyed our conversation.  He is gracious gentlemen, and was a pleasure to speak with. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did!

Brian Fuson (BF) Roger, Where did you get the inspiration to write “Sailing Away”

Roger Horne (RH)  Every year for the longest time, my wife (Becky) and I would go on vacation down to Daytona Beach. I’m not a water person, but I always enjoyed being there, and the calmness & serenity of the ocean. I remember my children were out playing, and I was sitting on the balcony.  I looked out and I saw a guy out there and he was sailing, by himself. And the more I watched him, it seemed like the further out he got. Pretty soon, it got to the point that it was like he just kinda drifted out of sight.

And I just sat there and thought to myself , that guys sailing away in his little boat there.  But some day, we as Christians, our souls will sail away on this mythical ship the church has always referred to as the Old Ship of Zion. And I got to thinking, “I’m sailing away on the old ship of Zion, sailing to the homeland of the soul”. Then I took it a step further and I said, “my friends and family, I know they’ll be there”. The song, itself,  came to me in a matter of 15 to 20 minutes. I wrote all the music & lyrics as well.

You had stated The Old Time Gospel Hour Trio were the first to record the song, how did that come about?

A friend of mine, Bill Traylor, he kinda tipped me to the idea that the group was looking for some type of easy flowing song, with a little different twist or whatever. And actually I thought of that song, I think I had for it for a year or two. I thought of that song because of how the lyrics go. The waters  are smooth and the sailing seems so easy, but things haven’t always been that way. I think of it in terms of us talking to someone  and saying, Everythings going good right now, but it certainly hasn’t always been that way. Then you think of that line, I’ve seen the billows roll, or in other words I’ve had plenty of trouble and problems. Bringing storm clouds to my soul, brought me to my knees and I didn’t think I could make it through. But Jesus has always been my stay, he’s always been there to help me. It’s just a song that blesses me, and I pray it will be one of those songs that long after I’m gone will touch the hearts of thousands of people. It’s a song that people can relate too.

I personally fell in love with the song after hearing Greater Vision sing the song on YouTube. Have you seen that video and what was your opinion?

A friend of mine, Stan Shuman (who used to sing in my group), tipped me off about that video. He called me one day and said, “Did you know Greater Vision cut your song “Sailing Away”? And I said, No I didn’t. He said it was on YouTube, and I have to be honest with you. I’d never been on YouTube. So I looked it up and watched it, and I felt I had to post a comment. And I said, guys you captured the song the way I had it in mind when I wrote it. Their tenor singer (Chris Allman) reminds me a lot of myself,  he sings so easy and so effortless.  I really appreciated and enjoyed their rendition of it. I never have heard the final cut of it, but I know they recorded it on a cd or dvd.

Is there any part of Sailing Away, lyrically or musically that means more to you  or is more special to you today, than when you wrote it?

The second verse. You know I was still a relatively young man when I wrote that song. I’ve put on a few miles, a few years, and a few pounds laughs. But I think about that second verse. I cannot complain, for my trip has been a good one, but I know I must be nearing the shore. I realize that the best part of my life is already behind me and I’ve got a few more years to go, I hope. For I can almost see the lights of my mansion oh so bright, and Jesus is standing at the door. That verse really speaks to me because it’s so real. I can see its gonna happen.

I dare not complain about anything, the Lord has been far better to me than I deserve. I’m thankful for so many all things, all my family, my job, most importantly, my salvation, and my gift of writing. I don’t have a thing in the world to complain about because it has been a good trip. I’m looking forward to my ship pulling into that port and I know I’m gonna get there soon!

Thanks so much for reading and be looking for more posts in our “Sing It Again!” segment!

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3 thoughts on “Let’s Sing It Again! – Sailing Away & Interview with Roger Horne

  1. Brian, I just finished reading your editorial or “blog” regarding “Sailing Away” I wanted to take a moment to write to you and say Thanks for the kind words you shared with me, and for choosing my song as your first blog. I sincerely hope that the Lord will bless your efforts with your endeavor. I count it an honor to have been chosen as your very first blog, and I’ll always remember our brief but meaningful conversation about my song Sailing Away. I pray God’s richest blessings upon you and your family, and I hope we’ll have other opportnities to talk. Your Friend through Him, Roger Horne

  2. When I traveled with the Weatherfords, this was one of the songs that Earl would sing every night. As he got closer to the end of his life, this song seemed to mean more to him. I still catch myself humming this song fairly often. I’m finally glad to find out where this song came from. You wrote a real good song Roger and I’m glad I got to sing this with Earl .

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