The summer of 1982, friends Larry Cochran, Horace Lawson, Wesley Dunlap, Joe Dunlap, Dwight Bailey and Scott (Skot) Arnold spent a lot of time traveling together, and discovered that while traveling, singing became a part of their normal routine. The song that launched it all was, “Swing Down Chariot, Stop and Let Me Ride.”
Starting off as acappella group, their sound was unique, yet in season for what was being released through the gospel industry. This sound opened doors for them to begin singing at events around the city. This prompted the guys to finally formalize their group, which would be called, “The Bishops.” This name was in honor of their grandfather; Bishop Sandy Dunlap who was their pastor at Eliezer Church of Christ.
Because these guys were also musicians, they decided to make full use of their talents.
Dwight> sung and played bass
Wesley> sung, wrote songs and played keyboards
Larry> sung, told jokes and played saxophone
Skot> sung, wrote songs and played drums
Joe> sung and played keyboards
Horace> sung and rapped
In 1984, the guys were blessed to add Bryan Steward to their group to sing the high parts. Shortly after, the guys decided to recruit more musicians:
Andre Tyus> Lead guitar
Rickey Steele> Bass guitar
Lewis Simpson> Bass guitar
Andre Vinson> Drums
As a result of these additions and the shift in their style of singing, more opportunities became available. As God continued to expand their territory, it became evident that they needed helping going to the next level. This revelation prompted them to enlist the help of Phillip Locke for management. What a difference that decision made. While they were quite busy, Phillip helped them realize that they were busy, “on the chittlin’ circuit.” Through the direction of Phillip, The Bishops’ were fortunate to share the stage with gospel legends such as, but not limited to: Commissioned, Thomas Whitfield, Edwin Hawkins, The Winans, Spirit Song and a host of others.
In 1989, time seemed to close the book on The Bishops.’ Wesley graduated high school a few years prior and was now enlisting in the U.S. Army. Skot was soon to follow and the others were finding themselves growing up and becoming very involved in individual life exploits. Although there was much talk about reconnecting, and even plans being made, tragedy struck before it could be realized.
In the summer of 1991, after Skot and Wesley both returned from the Army, Wesley was planning to pick Skot up one Sunday afternoon to go to church for a concert with him but could never seem to reach him on the phone. While playing for the concert that afternoon, Wesley got a call informing him that Skot had passed away. This was so devastating and unrealistic that it literally closed and sealed the door to any chance of The Bishops’ ever getting back together.
In the winter of 2013, Wendy Arnold (Skot’s sister and former secretary for the group), asked the guys to consider doing a reunion concert to benefit the international ministry she was now operating in. After much debate, and consideration, they decided to do it. It was simply amazing! After 22 years of separation, these guys were able to come back together and it seemed as though they had never been separated.
Hearing the voice of God, they decided to continue to sing together, but could not deny the feeling the hole created by Skot’s passing. This prompted the group to open up and add Ruben Minor to the group.
About 1 year later, the guys found themselves in the studio recording their first CD. Realizing that the Lord was actually giving them a second chance, they felt led of God to rebrand themselves as “Identity,” based upon II Corinthians 5:17, Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” Today Identity’s members include: