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Remembering James Blackwood

Written by scoopsnews on February 3, 2016 – 9:14 am -


James Blackwood

From Billy Blackwood’s Facebook this morning:


James  Blackwood was born on August 14, 1919, in Choctaw County, Mississippi, to sharecropper William Emmett Blackwood and his wife Carrie Prewitt Blackwood. He was the youngest of four children, which included his brother Roy Blackwood (December 24, 1900 – March 21, 1971), sister Lena Blackwood Cain (December 31, 1904 – March 1, 1990), and brother Doyle Blackwood (August 21, 1911 – October 3, 1974).

In 1926, James and his brother Doyle had developed an interest in gospel music, singing at church gatherings, camp meetings, schools and any place they saw the opportunity. During this period, the brothers sang on WTJS in Jackson, Tennessee.

Blackwood formed a singing group with his nephew R. W. and his brothers Roy and Doyle. The Blackwood Brothers first broadcast was on radio station WHEF, AM 1500, in Kosciusko, Mississippi in 1934. The quartet soon began broadcasting on the larger WJDX in Jackson, Mississippi, later moving to Shreveport, Louisiana in 1939, and Shenandoah, Iowa in 1940.

In early WWII, the quartet temporarily disbanded as James joined the war effort as a factory welder in California.[3] As the other members joined James in California, they resumed singing and the quartet was based in San Diego, California from 1944 to 1945 as they continued simultaneously working in the war related industries. After the war, they returned to Iowa in September 1945 resuming their broadcast on KMA Radio in Shenandoah. The year 1950 found the quartet moving to Memphis, Tennessee and radio station WMPS.

In 1951, they signed a recording contract with RCA Victor Records.

Soon they began traveling to their concert appearances by private plane with R.W. Blackwood and bass singer Bill Lyles as pilot and co-pilot. On 12 June 1954, the Blackwood Brothers won first place on the CBS radio and TV program Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts Show. On 30 June 1954 in Clanton, Alabama, the quartet was preparing for concert at the airport for the Chilton County Peach Festival. During a few practice touch-and-go landings the plane crashed and R. W., Bill Lyles and family friend Johnny Ogburn died in the crash.The quartet re-organized following the plane crash with R. W.’s younger brother, Cecil Blackwood, baritone, and J.D. Sumner, bass. In 1956 the re-organized group appeared on Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scout Show and won a second time.

In the mid-1950s the quartet started traveling in a customized bus, another ‘first’ for the group.

James Blackwood, Cecil Blackwood and J. D. Sumner founded the National Quartet Convention in 1957, originally a 3-day event held at Ellis Auditorium in Memphis, Tennessee .

In 1964, the Blackwood Brothers chartered the Gospel Music Association.

After singing with The Blackwood Brothers Quartet for 47 years, James (together with four other veteran gospel singers, Hovie Lister, Jake Hess, J. D. Sumner and Rosie Rozell) formed the Masters V Quartet, the highlight being a joint concert with The Rivertown Boys in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. In 1990 he formed the James Blackwood Quartet along with Ken Turner, Brad White and Ray Shelton. Rosie Rozell would sing tenor in the initial performances, but Larry Ford would quickly become the permanent tenor as Rosie’s health deteriorated. This group, like James’ preceding groups, would also receive a Grammy nomination.

Content from Wikipedia:


Watch “James Blackwood I Wanna Be More Like Jesus 1998 GOGR” HERE








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My NQC Memories: Philip Foster

Written by Staff on September 25, 2014 – 2:38 pm -

Philip Foster and Ed O'Neal

Philip Foster and Ed O’Neal

My Southern Gospel Experience : A Canadian’s Journey Into An American Tradition

By Phil Foster

As I walk in the front door of the huge auditorium, a smell of caramel popcorn invades my nostrils! I can hear the sound of some group singing in the background and find myself unconsciously singing along to whatever song is being sung. I see hundreds of people walking in every direction. Then, all of a sudden, I see Mark Trammel, or Gerald Wolfe or Peg McKamey walk by! I’m at the National Quartet Convention for the very first time. It seems that every emotion I possess has been activated!

A few years back, I think it was in the late 80’s, I had the privilege to go to the Quartet Convention in Kentucky. Wow! What an experience. The first time I went to Louisville, or Looville, or Looeyville, however you pronounce it, I was wide-eyed like a little kid in a candy shop.

Everywhere I turned, I saw many of the artists I had listened to over the years. I saw a particular group, and recalled singing along with them to some song on one of my old cassettes. I remember walking down one of the aisles, gawking at everything in sight, not really paying attention to where or what I was doing. At one point, I was walking, looking to my left at the Nelon’s display and bumped into Naomi Sego, nearly knocking her over. I was so embarrassed, but being the woman of God she is, she was very gracious. She smiled and said, “Excuse me.” She apologized to me!

Jake Hess

Jake Hess

That was a very small thing but something I never forgot.   It was not just the “excuse me”, that she said, but the manner she said it, the look of kindness in her eyes and the smile on her face. This woman shone with the love of God in her life. Believe it or not, that simple incident left a huge impact on me.

As I wandered around up and down the aisles that seemed at times to go on forever, I found myself at the end of one of the aisles in front of the Gaither display. There, standing all by himself, his arms folded in his familiar pose, stood Jake Hess. I am sure I must have looked like a complete idiot standing there, gawking and staring. Then he walked over to me. I wasn’t sure if I should run or stay. He smiled at me, stuck out his hand and said, “Hi, I’m Jake Hess.” WOW! Jake Hess is introducing himself to me! I can’t remember if I said anything back or not, but he asked me, “What is your name?”   WOW again!    Jake Hess wants to know my name! I told him and then he asked, “Where are you from?” WOW again. I told him I was from Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.

I finally composed myself and found myself thanking him for all the years in Gospel Music, and for all the blessings that came my way, because of him and the Statesmen. I babbled on and on for what seemed like an eternity. Jake stood there the whole the time, with that famous hand on elbow; hand on face pose of his. He was genuinely moved by what I was saying.

He had tears in his eyes as I thanked him.   Before I left, he asked me one more time, “What did you say your name was?” I won’t say “Wow” again, but I was amazed that he was genuinely interested in knowing my name and what I had to say. In my whole lifetime, I can honestly say, Jake Hess made more of an impact on me than any other person has to date. I vividly remember floating back to my seat in the auditorium; my wife looked at me and said, “Who did you meet?”

As the years passed from that moment, I have often wondered to myself whether what I felt was just infatuation over one of my heroes, or was it a genuine presence of the love of God in this man? Personally, I think it was both. But there is no denying the presence of God that Jake Hess had in his life. It shone from him. It poured out of his mouth when he talked. It flowed from him when he sang. It will be a moment in time that I will never ever forget. I remember reading somewhere that Elvis Presley had said that Jake Hess was his favorite singer. I wonder whether Elvis felt that love of God that flow from Jake? I’m sure he must have.

James Blackwood

James Blackwood

After I came down from that experience a little, I wandered around to the far side of the hall. Standing there, all alone in a little booth, was James Blackwood. I instantly felt sorry for him. Here was a pioneer in Southern Gospel Music, all by himself. It did not seem right to me. I walked over to him, and basically said the same thing that I said to Jake. I thanked him for all those years and informed him that his group was one of the first professional concerts I had ever been too.

I don’t know who the promoter was, but I remember going to PCVS School in Peterborough, back in the 70’s where I saw the Blackwood Brothers and the McDuff Brothers. I told him that and he said he remembered being in Peterborough. As we chatted, I recalled the same type of experience that I encountered with Jake Hess. James Blackwood was a gentleman all the way. We both reminisced about days gone by and I asked if I could take his picture,. I walked away from that experience once again amazed at the presence of God that I felt. I was learning great life lessons but didn’t realize to what extent for many years after.

There were many experiences from attending the National Quartet Convention in Louisville. I met many people, and so many of them had an impact on my life. I learned that they are people just like you and me. I guess what I mean by that is I had a tendency of putting people on pedestals, whether they were a Gospel artist, or a minister of the Gospel. Certain preachers that I used to put on that proverbial pedestal let me down. The media just loves it when a man of God slips up and it goes public. Well guess what? They are human. I had to learn that. I believe God allows things to happen to people in the public eye, if only to bring the focus back to Him.

Jake Hess taught me that. James Blackwood taught me that. Just having a simple conversation with these men of God, they taught me to put my focus on God, not man. They are just people, ordinary men and women that make mistakes just like I do. Man will let you down every time.   God will never let us down.

Written by Philip R Foster

First published by SGM Radio website in March 2012

For current SGM Radio features visit



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Clarke Beasley: At The Helm Of The National Quartet Convention

Written by Staff on September 10, 2013 – 11:04 am -

nqcnewlogoThe National Quartet Convention has long been one of the biggest and most prestigious Southern Gospel institutions. From its humble beginnings in 1957 in Memphis, Tennessee, this weeklong event sees fans and performers from all over the world descending on Louisville Kentucky for six days and nights of Southern Gospel Music. During this last year at Louisville, SGN Scoops is reprinting an SGMRadio feature on the NQC Executive Vice President, Clarke Beasley, about the man behind the helm of what JD Sumner called, “The Grand Daddy of them all”.

Clarke Beasley

Clarke Beasley

Clarke Beasley, son of a man who is also a Southern Gospel institution, Les Beasley, took on the role of Executive Director of the National Quartet Convention in 1993.“It was a big challenge, but it was also very exciting”, Clarke says. “ I had been working at the GMA for two years and had received quite a bit of event planning experience there helping to produce GMA Week.  That really prepared me for the job at NQC… I was hired [initially] to bring all of the convention services in house, i.e. ticketing, advertising promotion, event management, etc., and move our headquarters to Louisville in preparation for the event’s move to Louisville in 1994.”

James Blackwood

James Blackwood

When JD Sumner first conceived the idea of a three-day event, he wanted to bring together artists and industry personnel, which was a unique idea at the time. However, Clarke also pays tribute to another Southern Gospel legend for making the NQC come to life. “[JD] was singing for the Blackwood Brothers at the time and convinced James Blackwood that it was something the Blackwood Brothers should sponsor.  Much credit should be given to James Blackwood for being willing to take the initial risk.”

The National Quartet Convention is now a major production; a yearlong project directed by a board that oversees all of the activities, exhibits, concerts and showcases. What might appear enormously daunting to outside observers, Beasley finds exciting. “It is a multi-faceted event with many moving parts. The challenge is to keep all of the balls in the air without dropping any of them.  That aspect of the job makes it a continuous challenge.”

“I love the event itself, and I always have.  Even though I have enormous responsibilities now, I still love the event as much as I did when I attended the event as a kid.  The actual event itself always charges my batteries for the planning process that takes place throughout the year.”

There are always special occurrences at NQC that are not experienced anywhere else, and as both industry insider and Southern Gospel fan, Clarke has his favourite memories. “The moments that stand out were the Speer Family retirement celebration, the Singing Senators performance (Trent Lott, Larry Craig, John Ashcroft and Jim Jeffords) and of course the Cathedrals Retirement and Glen Payne’s [call-in] performance of “I Won’t Have to Cross Jordan Alone.”  That was probably the most special moment of them all.”


Cathedral Quartet

To those who think that this event has had it’s day, Beasley responds, “Some say that about our music in general.  I believe that as the music goes, so goes the NQC.  That is why I work really hard to expand the economic base of the entire industry through my work with the Southern Gospel Music Guild.”

“SGM is musically charming and unique…however, the most important component of our music is the overt, straight-forward presentation of Biblical truth within its lyric.  We must guard with all vigilance that component of our music to insure that never changes.”

Clarke has seen the industry from both a performer and a promoter outlook. He traveled for several years with the Florida Boys, and knows what it’s like to get on the road, week after week. “What many do not realize is how truly arduous the lifestyle is.  Traveling over 200 days a year is enormously taxing both physically and psychologically.  Those who do it are truly called and gifted.”

Les Beasley

Les Beasley

Having this insight into the life of a Southern Gospel Artist has given Clarke great regard for many of the industry’s performers who have been traveling for decades. This includes his father, Les Beasley. He is grateful to have grown up as the son of one of SGM’s legends. “It was quite a privilege, not just because of his status in Gospel Music, but because of who he is.  I cannot imagine a greater example to emulate.” Clarke continues, “My favorite quote of his is, ‘There is no limit to what someone can do as long as he does not care who receives the credit.’ That is a belief he has lived by.”

The next generation will tell the tale of the future of Southern Gospel. What does Clarke see as the future of SGM? “I see a future where we are a regular component of Sunday morning worship in most churches.  I also see a future where high standards will be set and artists will be required to meet them. These high standards will be set not only in musical excellence but in ministry readiness and in personal conduct.”

“I believe that the next few years will be of critical importance to the next 20 years of the future of our music, and as I said before, as the music goes, so goes the NQC.” Clarke continues, “I am very optimistic on what we can achieve.  I am convinced our music will be used as a powerful tool of evangelism to reach the lost and encourage the believers.”

Clarke Beasley and his team are working hard to pull together an event that will, as always, surpass the year before it. That requires a day-to-day determination to keep to the vision and mission of the event, as they work toward September and the beginning of the next NQC. Even Clarke however, is aware that Southern Gospel and the NQC are rooted in an experience in the daily lives of the singers, songwriters, and all who are involved in this type of musical evangelism. He was reminded of this lesson again recently.

“With one of my close friends and neighbors losing his wife this week, I am reminded that life is precious and short, and I should strive every day to enjoy the God-given blessing of life and make each day contribute something to the Kingdom of God.”

For more information on the National Quartet Convention, click on .


Edited from an SGM Radio website feature entitled “Clarke Beasley: At the Helm of the National Quartet Convention”, published July 2006














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The 2012 James Blackwood Lifetime Achievement Award goes to The Bradfords Memphis, TN

Written by SGN Scoops on December 28, 2012 – 5:01 am -

Each year on the Thursday before Christmas, Allen Guyer and Keith Inman present “Home For Christmas”. It started eighteen years blackwoodsago and benefits the Memphis Union Mission. “Home For Christmas” is just that, several artists, evangelists and ministries of all types come home to the Memphis area for Christmas. Allen and Keith decided to put together a concert and have the money go to help the needy. To date this concert has raised over $68,000.00 for the Memphis Union Mission.

The first year of “Home For Christmas”, James Blackwood was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award for his unmeasurable contribution of sharing the gospel. With his permission the award became “The James Blackwood Lifetime Achievement Award”, and has been presented each year to someone who has dedicated their life to taking the gospel message to the lost.

Steve and Christie Bradford are the 2012 recipients of “The James Blackwood Lifetime Achievement Award” presented by “Home For Christmas” in Memphis, TN.

Steve and Christie met in high school and began singing together even before they were married, almost 29 years ago. They have two children, Randi Bradford Nash, age 26 and Brandon Bradford, age 20. The Bradfords began as a duet and have had different ones throughout their ministry to fulfill the third part. They produced a television program called “Southern Gospel, Memphis Style” which aired for over ten years. Steve and Christie also worked for Paul Boden at the U.S. Gospel News for many years. When Paul passed away, they started “Gospel Music News” which was a printed and web-based publication. They also worked for Frank Arnold Productions providing sound and video at his concerts for over five years. In the very beginning they started working at “The National Quartet Convention” which they have now been doing for 28 years.

The Bradfords are currently on staff at First Baptist Church of Portageville, MO. Steve is the Associate Pastor leading worship and working with the youth. Christie is also on staff as a Ministry Assistant and also works with the youth. They also still travel and do concerts as Bradford Ministries, while doing several revivals with life-long friends, Mark and Kimsey LaRue as Bradford Ministries Revival Team.

You can contact Bradford Ministries at 901-647-4453 or at

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Jimmy Blackwood Retires, Farewell Performance Slated for Brumley “Shindig”

Written by SGN Scoops on October 1, 2012 – 3:03 am -

{EHA-Nashville, TN} Jimmy Blackwood, son of beloved James Blackwood, recently  announced his retirement from many years on the road with the famous Blackwood Brothers. Jimmy announces that he will only be doing one “Farewell” performance in  Rogers, AR on October 13 at The Shindig. Besides the Blackwood Brothers, the concert will feature the Oak Ridge Boys and Dailey and Vincent. All groups  will be singing songs from their latest released Gospel albums.
The Shindig is a fundraiser for the I’ll Fly Away Foundation and will celebrate I’ll Fly Away’s 80th birthday. All ticket sales will  benefit the foundation’s music eduction program. This program teaches young people about America’s musical heritage through school workshops. The I’ll Fly Away Foundation has partnered with the Gibson Foundation in its mission. Gibson will be providing an Epiphone guitar to each school that is involved in the  I’ll Fly Away Foundation program. The Gibson Guitar Bus will also be at The Shindig and will open for free tours before the show. The concert is slated for Saturday, October 13, 2012, 7:00 pm at the John Q Hammons Center at 3303 Pinnacle Hills Parkway in Rogers, Arkansas. Three phenomenal artists/groups will perform together for a one-time-only gathering. Featured will be multi-platinum and Grammy-winning recording artist, The Oak Ridge Boys, along with Dailey & Vincent and the Blackwood Brothers Quartet.

Advance tickets: Artist Circle ($50), Gold Seating ($40), and Silver Seating ($30) All tickets are non-refundable. All seats are reserved. Tickets are $5 more the day of show. For tickets to I’ll Fly Away’s 80th birthday and Jimmy Blackwood’s final and “Farewell” performance call  888-462-6718 or visit 

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Father of Mark209’s Jym Howe Suffers Major Heart Attack

Written by SGN Scoops Staff on November 15, 2011 – 10:17 am -

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – (November 14, 2011) – The father of Mark209’s Jym Howe suffered a major heart attack last week. Howe’s father, Tommy Howe, was admitted to the CVICU at Vanderbilt University Hospital at around noon on Tuesday, November 8, 2011.

He was presented with extreme pain in his back between his shoulder blades, which started on Monday (November 7, 2011) at approximately 8:00 p.m.

Jym recounted, “After a restless night, Dad went to work at Vanderbilt University/Chemistry Dept Glassblowing Shop, still with extreme back pain.  After the pain did not subside, he decided to call his doctor who advised him to go to the Emergency Room.  He walked 1/2 mile to the ER. Can you believe that?  After examining him, he was advised that his pulse rate was 40 and dropping fast, and that he was having a heart attack. The ER cardiologist directed the nurses to bring the paddles in case they were needed.  His pulse dropped even further — down to 30.  Further testing showed he was going to need bypass surgery (3 grafts), which was scheduled for Friday at 8:00 a.m.  This would allow his body to rest some before the surgery.  However, after having a severe episode of pain, three nitro pills, and two additional EKGs, the surgery was moved up immediately.  Surgery lasted just under five hours, and he received five grafts instead of three!”

Tommy is recovering well and visiting with family and friends.  He walked his first steps approximately 12 hours after the surgery.  The surgeon said there is very little damage to his heart, and he is expected to be released from the hospital on Tuesday of this week.

Many Southern Gospel fans will remember Tommy filling in for Jake Hess and James Blackwood with the Masters V, for Ed Hill with J.D. Sumner & The Stamps, and filled some dates with Hovie Lister & The Statesmen.

“All our fans sent tons of support to me and prayers up for my family and especially father,” mentioned Jym. “The support shown to my family during this time has been so amazing. We appreciate your continued support and prayers!”

More information will be posted periodically to Mark209’s website at or on their Facebook at .


About Mark209

Mark209 is one of the most exciting Gospel quartets touring the country today. The intricate harmonies, detailed arrangements, energy, and versatility place this group in a league of its own. In a time when mediocrity is widely accepted, this group has raised the bar and exceeds everyone’s expectations. The group consists of Jym Howe, Nathaniel Justice, Joe Armstrong, and Jimmy Reno.

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