Fairfield Four's James Hill Dies

Veteran gospel singer was 83.

NASHVILLE — Baritone singer James Hill of the prominent gospel group the Fairfield Four died on Thursday at Baptist Hospital of complications from diabetes. He was 83.

Hill, a native of Bessemer, Ala., joined the Fairfield Four in 1946. The group, which had been formed in 1921, disbanded in 1950, and Hill and another member, Isaac Freeman, joined the Skylarks. Hill and Freeman rejoined the reunited Fairfield Four in 1980 and, since then, had performed and recorded with numerous country, gospel, rock and pop stars.

Hill, who also helped run the Fairfield Four Funeral Home in Nashville in the 1940s and who was a sheriff's deputy and police officer here, also appeared in Robert Altman's film Nashville.

The group toured with Lyle Lovett and was a mainstay at Nashville musical functions, wearing their trademark overalls with tuxedo shirts and jackets. They traveled widely, appearing at a salute to Johnny Cash in 1999 in New York.

The group recently released the album The Fairfield Four and Friends — Live From Mountain Stage on Nashville's Blue Plate records. Friends appearing on the album are Kevin Welch, Elvis Costello, Lee Roy Parnell, Steve Earle and the Nashville Bluegrass Band.

Funeral arrangements are pending. His list of survivors is to be announced. Freeman said remaining members of the group would meet to decide whether to continue.