Born on Christmas Eve, in a house at Mt. Pisgah Church in Limestone County, Jake Hess was the seventh son and youngest of twelve. He started singing at age five with his brother and at age fourteen started singing with the Haleyville Melody Boys. He has become one of Gospel music's most imitated singers, innovators and leaders.
Labelled as Mr. Gospel Music, Hess sang with the John Daniel Quartet, Sunny South Quartet and the Original Melody Masters before joining the Statesmen Quartet in 1948 as an original member and lead singer. In 1963, Hess formed The Imperials, who backed Elvis Presley on a gospel album.
The winner of four Grammy awards, Hess was a founding father of the National Quartet Convention and a director of the Gospel Music Association. He has hosted television shows in Nashville and California. Hess was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1987.
Hess is the 1995 John Herbert Orr Pioneer Award recipient.