Willmer Broadnax (1916-1992) was a trans man who was a professional gospel singer whose career spanned from 1930 through occasional recordings in the 1980s. He was the lead singer of his own group, which included his brother, William. Broadnax began singing during his teen years in his native Houston. He and William then moved to Los Angeles and sang with the Southern Gospel Singers until they decided to break away and start their own group called, Little Axe (Willmer’s nickname) and the Golden Echoes. The Golden Echoes toured throughout the 1940s, and in 1949 recorded a version of “When the Saints Go Marching In.” Broadnax went on to sing and/or record with the Spirit of Memphis Quartet, the Fairfield Four and the Blindboys of Mississippi and another version.  

Broadnax was stabbed by a woman who had been his romantic interest named Lavinia Richardson. A jealous Broadnax saw her in a car with another man and physically pulled her out of the car. He threatened her with a knife, but she stabbed him with the same knife three times after he was restrained by a by-stander. He died days later on June 1, 1992. It was then, doctors discovered Broadnax had been assigned female at birth. This called a ripple in the gospel music community.


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