James Blackwood

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James Blackwood
Birth nameJames Webre Blackwood
Born(1919-08-04)August 4, 1919
Choctaw County, Mississippi United States
DiedFebruary 3, 2002(2002-02-03) (aged 82)
GenresSouthern Gospel
Years active1934–2002
Associated actsThe Blackwood Brothers, The Masters V
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James Blackwood
Birth nameJames Webre Blackwood
Born(1919-08-04)August 4, 1919
Choctaw County, Mississippi United States
DiedFebruary 3, 2002(2002-02-03) (aged 82)
GenresSouthern Gospel
Years active1934–2002
Associated actsThe Blackwood Brothers, The Masters V

James Webre Blackwood (4 August 1919 – 3 February 2002) was an American Gospel singer and one of the founding members of legendary Southern Gospel quartet The Blackwood Brothers.



James Webre 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).[1]

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.[2]

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. 1950 found the quartet moving to Memphis, Tennessee and radio station WMPS.

In 1951 they signed a recording contract with RCA Victor Records.[4]

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.[5] 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 .[6][7]

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.[8] 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.[9][10]

Personal life

On May 4, 1939, James Blackwood married Miriam (Mim) Grantham.[11] The couple had two sons James Jr. and Billy. He died of a stroke on February 3, 2002, and is buried at Forest Hill Cemetery East, in Shelby County, Tennessee.[12]



Win [13]


During his long career, James was probably honored with more awards that any other gospel singer. He is the only person in any field of music to have been nominated for a Grammy award for 28 consecutive years. He received 31 total nominations and won 9 Grammy awards.

In the 1990s at the request of Grammy Award-Winning artist-producer Art Greenhaw, lifelong fan and musical disciple of James Blackwood, Blackwood began a series of critically acclaimed recording sessions with Greenhaw's band, The Light Crust Doughboys. The collaboration resulted in 4 Grammy Nominations in 4 different years for Best Southern, Country or Bluegrass Gospel Album of the Year, 2 Dove Nominations for Best Gospel Album of the Year in either southern or country gospel categories and Inspirational TV's Nomination for Best Southern Gospel Album of the Year. The year of Blackwood's death saw the release of We Called Him Mr. Gospel Music: The James Blackwood Tribute Album (2002) which won the Grammy for Best Southern, Country or Bluegrass Gospel Album of the Year at the 2003 Grammy Awards in New York City.

GMA Dove Awards

His peers in the Gospel Music Association voted him the GMA Dove Award Top Male Vocalist for seven consecutive years[14]


In 1974, the Gospel Music Association inducted Blackwood as the third living person to be voted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.[15]

The Southern Gospel Music Association inducted Blackwood into the Southern Gospel Museum and Hall of Fame in 1997.[16]

In 1983 the Golden State University awarded him an honorary Doctoral Degree of Music. In 1986 Memphis State University awarded him their Distinguished Achievement Award in the field of communications and fine arts. In 1997 the Memphis and Shelby County Optimists Clubs named his Citizen of the Year, presenting him with plaques and citations from 16 government and civic groups.

In 1994 the Singing News Magazine presented James with the Marvin Norcross Award. In 1997 the Gospel Voice Magazine gave him the Living Legend Award. These are among the highest awards in gospel music.

In 2001 he was presented with the General Superintendent's Medal of Honor from the Assemblies of God. The highest recognition from that organization.

He appeared on all of the major television networks, Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts (CBS), Dave Garroway (NBC), Johnny Cash Show (ABC), Tennessee Ernie Ford Show (ABC), Tom Snyder Show (NBC), Dinah Shore Show (NBC), Hee Haw (CBS), Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters (NBC), Statler Brothers Show (TNN), and on the 700 Club, PTL and TBN.

He sang in all 50 states, every Canadian province, and 35 foreign countries.

Television appearances


  1. ^ "Blackwood bios". The Blackwood Brothers. Retrieved 16 October 2010. 
  2. ^ McNeil, W K (2010). Encyclopedia of American Gospel Music. Routledge. pp. 37–38. ISBN 978-0-415-87569-1. 
  3. ^ Martin, Douglas (10 February 2002). "James Blackwood, 82, Dies; Major Voice in Gospel Music". New York Times. 
  4. ^ "Blackwood Brothers Quartet-It Was the Best of Times". Grand Ole Gospel Reunion. Retrieved 16 October 2010. 
  5. ^ Hazen, Cindy; Freeman, Mike (1997). Memphis Elvis-Style. John F. Blair Publisher. pp. 47–48. ISBN 978-0-89587-173-2. 
  6. ^ "National Quartet Convention: History". Discovery Media. Retrieved 16 October 2010. 
  7. ^ W.K. McNeill, pp 274
  8. ^ Miller, Zell (1996). They Heard Georgia Singing. Mercer University Press. p. 192. ISBN 978-0-86554-504-5. 
  9. ^ Dempsey, John Mark; Greenhaw, Art (2002). The Light Crust Doughboys Are on the Air: Celebrating Seventy Years of Texas Music. University of North Texas Press. p. 209. ISBN 978-1-57441-151-5. 
  10. ^ Jarnigan, Bill (25 September 1993). "Gospel Personalities, Fans to Gather for Quartet Convention". Times Daily. 
  11. ^ "A Tribute to James Blackwood". The Southern Gospel Music Forum. Retrieved 16 October 2010. 
  12. ^ James Blackwood at Find a Grave
  13. ^ "James Blackwood Grammies". James Blackwood. Retrieved 16 October 2010. 
  14. ^ "Blackwood Dove Awards". James Blackwood. Retrieved 16 October 2010. 
  15. ^ "1974 Blackwood Induction Gospel Music Hall of Fame". Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Retrieved 16 October 2010. 
  16. ^ "1997 Blackwood Induction Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame". Southern Gospel Music Association. Retrieved 16 October 2010. 

External links