Mosie Lister was born on September 8, 1921, in Cochran, Georgia, the son of Willis and Pearl Holland Lister. Willis, though a fine barber, resorted to farming after the 1929 crash and moved the family to Americus, where they lived for 10 years.
Because Willis taught music as a hobby, Mosie studied under his tutelage When Mosie was twelve, Willis bought him his first violin, and Mosie found playing it a relatively easy skill to master, and hence developed a keen ear for music. This, combined with the available solitude of farm life allowed him to create finished musical performances of all types in his fertile imagination.
When he was eighteen, he traveled to the Vaughan School of Music in Tennessee to study harmony with Adger M. Pace, and G. T. Speer. In 1941 he proceeded to Tampa, FL, to join the Sunny South Quartet, adding his baritone voice to those of Clide Cain, Horace Floyd, Lee Kitchens, and pianist, R.D. Ginnett.
Pearl Harbor and World War II put his singing career on hold as he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. Upon his discharge, he attended Middle Georgia College, and then returned to the Sunny South Quartet, now featuring "Chief" Wetherington on bass and Quentin Hicks on piano.
In 1946 he met and married Wylene Whitten. They moved to Atlanta, where they were blessed with identical twin daughters, Brenda & Barbara. Mosie's singing career continued to evolve as Mosie, Lee, and "Chief" established the Melody Masters quartet, pulling in Alvin Tootle on first Tenor and Wally Varner on piano. This provided an opportunity for him to begin innovating new sounds and ground-breaking vocal arrangements.
After a break from singing due to a respiratory infection, Mosie regained his health and helped Hovie Lister (no relation) build a new quartet which became the original Statesmen. In time, Mosie relinquished his singing career, but stayed with the Statesmen as their writer/arranger. These were golden years for the Statesmen as they became immensely popular with such hits as "Goodbye, World, Goodby, "I'll Leave It All Behind", "I'm Bound for the Kingdom", and "Sunday Meetin' Time".
By 1953, Mosie had formed his own publishing company, and was so busy with writing, arranging, and company business, Wylene asked him why he didn't just quit his day job and write music. Mosie knew of no one who had supported a family in this way, but after some intense prayer, he did quit his day job, and God affirmed his choice by blessing him with some of his best songs that year.
In 1956, Wylene became ill, and, on the doctor's advice, Mosie moved his family back to Florida. During that same period of time, Pearl passed away from cancer. But Mosie continued to work through it all.
In time, Wylene's health improved, and she returned to helping him with his business, now based in Tampa. Then, in 1959, George Beverly Shea recorded "How Long Has It Been'. The following year, Elvis recorded his first gospel album, His Hand in Mine, featuring the title song as well as "He knows Just What I Need." A second Elvis gospel album in 1966, How Great Thou Art, included "Where No One Stands Alone". These platinum recordings, featuring Statesmen and Blackwood Brothers arrangements with backup vocals sung by the Jordanaires, continue to sell today.
Mosie continued to promote and market his songs via his own company, Mosie Lister Publications. In 1969, he merged with a national denominational publishing house, expanding his influence into church music. Six years later, he was ordained into the Gospel Ministry, and the next year was inducted into the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame.
Wylene passed away in 2001, and within the next two years Mosie had made some big decisions. He married Martha Hunter, and the newlyweds moved to Tennessee, where they live near Martha's daughter Vicki (wife of Booth Brothers tenor Michael), and Mosie's daughter Barbara (married to David Williams, a veteran music minister, keyboardist and arranger). Barbara is a songwriter herself, and together with her husband, manages their own publishing company, Music by WilliamSong (williamsongmusicresources.com). Mosie's other daughter, Brenda, is a gifted singer and graphic artist/writer who continues to live in Florida with her husband Jimmie Vann, also a musician and veteran of Christian performing arts (Vann Presentation Services, inc).
Mosie's autobiography The Song Goes On:
Mosie published this collection of down-home stories, anecdotes, and historical narratives in 2012. It's a fun and informative read with lots of pictures, guaranteed to delight the Southern Gospel fan, and bring a smile to the face of those who remember a simpler, warmer time in the history of Southern culture!