The “5” Royales Ignite the City of Arts and Innovation Back in the ‘50s.


Winston-Salem’s slogan, “The City of Arts and Innovation,” while relatively new, actually can apply to our city back to the 1950s.

By Bob Scarborough

As was the case in many cities and towns in the south, families and friends gathered to have fellowship, to enjoy meals together, and to play music. At a home in East Winston, young, creative men began to take seriously their musical entertainment and sought opportunities to play for churches in the area and other social events as the Royal Sons Quintet featuring Jimmy Moore, Obadiah Carter, Clarence Pauling and Otto Jeffries, with Johnny Tanner singing lead. Lowman Pauling even then was developing a creative style combining gospel music with jump blues and doo-wop.

A demo of the band made its way to Apollo Records in New York. Two songs were released by the Royal Sons in 1951, but the record company wanted rhythm and blues. And it was so. The group transitioned to secular music and with Lowman’s gutsy style and the youthful exuberance exhibited in the band’s sound, the fans responded and young musicians began taking licks from The “5” Royales’ innovative style.

After three nominations to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in the early 2000s, The “5” Royales were finally recognized for their contributions to the early days of rock & roll, with a 2015 induction in the Early Influences category. Steve Cropper, legendary performer and songwriter, stood before a packed house and the family members of the band and ushered The “5” Royales to their proper place in music history, as innovative influencers of the sounds we hear today in rock, soul, and rhythm and blues.

Today, Lowman Pauling’s son, Lowman Darryl Pauling, carries on the family’s responsibilities in the community, identifying folks who need assistance and finding a way to help, through his church and independently. He also wants to develop a program to help children with music in the area schools. Dreams become reality when people have passion.

The passion in those musicians influenced by The “5” Royales, James Brown, Eric Clapton, and Mick Jagger to name a few, who are now credited with igniting creativity in a new generation of performers and songwriters, can look back to a small group who possibly were not even aware of the mark they would leave. They just enjoyed making music.

We should all be very thankful of that fact and realize that Winston-Salem has always been a crucible for bringing about innovation in the arts, technology and just about anything we put our minds to.

Bob Scarborough is an DJ with WEGO/WTOB Oldies Radio, 980 a.m. Visit them at or like them on Facebook at WEGO 980.

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