George Beverly Shea Grammy

 

BOB ABERNETHY, host: At this weekend’s 53rd annual Grammy awards, the Recording Academy honors the best in the music industry. Among this year’s recipients is legendary gospel singer George Beverly Shea, who is receiving a lifetime achievement award. Beginning in 1947, Shea was the featured soloist at Billy Graham crusades. Last week, he turned 102. Kim Lawton spoke with him.

KIM LAWTON, correspondent: At 102, George Beverly Shea still sings as often as he can. He says singing is an important part of his spiritual practice.

GEORGE BEVERLY SHEA: You know, you keep tuned up with the Lord when you love the songs that are written about Him.

LAWTON: Shea and his wife, Karlene, live in Montreat, North Carolina, near their longtime friend, Billy Graham. A Canadian pastor’s son, Shea says music was always part of his life. He was working at a Christian radio station in Chicago in the 1940s when his baritone voice caught Graham’s attention.

post01-georgebeverlysheaSHEA: Mr. Graham phoned me and then wrote me and asked me in 1947 to become a part of his team: “Sing a little quiet song before I speak.”

LAWTON: That began a relationship that has lasted more than 60 years. Shea sang at almost every Graham crusade. Shea says it was a privilege to be on the Graham team. He says his favorite part of the crusades was watching all the people stream forward after Graham gave the altar call.

SHEA: Your head is supposed to be bowed in prayer, but I like to say I peeked a little bit, and I saw those thousands of people all during those 63 years coming forward.

LAWTON: According to Guinness World Records, Shea has sung before more people than anyone else—an estimated combined live audience of 220 million people.

SHEA: They didn’t come to hear me. They came to hear Billy Graham.

LAWTON: During his 80-year career, Shea recorded more than 70 albums and wrote several popular worship songs. He was nominated 10 times for a Grammy and won in 1965. He’ll accept the Lifetime Achievement Award along with several other music greats, including Julie Andrews, Dolly Parton, and the Ramones.

SHEA: Someone said, “Why have you been doing this all these years?” I put my thumb up to the air toward heaven, and I said I’ve been doing it for Him.

LAWTON: Shea says his faith keeps him going, and he sees every day as a gift.

SHEA: I don’t know when heaven will loom up for me, but we have to look forward to it. I hope there will be an organ up there to play. Oh, boy, I love organ music.

I’m Kim Lawton reporting.

  • William Leadbeater

    GBS has given us a great example of Christian living, a man of great integrity and dedication who served his Lord Jesus Christ faithfully by his life and outstanding singing. Bill.

  • Heather

    I was in the Billy Graham Crusade choir, also a councillor in Melbourne -1956 and can still hear that GoldenVoice. a real gift from God. God Bless you George. You still look quite healthy. Öh. The Wonder of it All”

  • femi olayokun

    I got to know George in an interview with Gaither on a t.v station. The interview shows past events which he sang before large audience. He’s being doing this for the past 75years and to me its really amazing. I covet the grace of God upon his life.

  • Ruth Cameron

    I remember Oh, so many years ago, when I was very young, during the summer months listening to Mr Shea singing “The Lord’s Prayer”. At the close of each day at the Boy Scout Camp, which was back behind the woods of our farm, we could hear his beautiful voice as his record was being played over the loud speakers at the camp to end the day. Oh, what a voice he has, even now he can still lift up that voice of his and sing to the glory of God. God has truly blessed him and Mr. Billy Graham. What a wonderful pair they are giving God the glory.

  • PENNY

    I have loved Mr Shea’s incredibly powerful singing voice for most of my life. God definitely chose him to sing his magnificent hymns for us to hear his love and devotion to our Lord. May he have many more happy years ahead of him!

  • Håkan Larsson

    George Beverly Shea har varit min favoritsångare sedan början av mina tonår. Jag är nu 67 år och älskar att höra honom sjunga fortfarande. Jag ser och hör att han ärar Gud med sin sång. Gud välsigne honom!

    George Beverly Shea has been my favorite singer since the beginning of my teens. I am now 67 years old and love to hear him sing still. I see and hear that he honors God with his song. God bless him!

  • Nonyelu favour maduka

    George Beverly Shea is one of them that inspires me, an I must say that I appreciate the LORD for giving us such a person with such a heart for him(GOD), His songs are inspirational and I love them, since I came to know about him from the BILLY GRAHAM HOMECOMING FRIENDS i’ve never forgotten him.

    And I have a verse that i want to pass to him for one of his songs (THE WONDER OF IT ALL) after listening to the song in the homecoming album, I was inspired by it to pen down one verse for him, and I long to pass it to him, because I know he will love it! God bless him for me.

  • Linda

    Amazing. . . My father played his recordings from the earliest times of LP’s on his “longest running hymn program ever” on WFAA in Dallas. They were friends. Because of this radio program that was heard because of being a clear channel station, many heard Bev and Word records became well known. Not sure if Bev recorded for Word.

  • Dara Schanker

    Is GBS still alive? 03-05-2012

  • John Harvey

    I am 81 now, live in Enfield, UK. i was standing at back of Harringay Arena in 1954 when Cliff Barrows was having first-ever choir rehearsal for Billy Graham Crusade. There was a guy standing nearby and I joined him.
    He said after first song, “They sound as though have sung together all their lives.. We had a lovely chat, and he asked me how to get to Manor House tube, so I took him there. It was Geo Bev. Shea. What a thrill.
    John Harvey