During Memphis’ Elvis Week, the Blackwood Quartet of Memphis, Tennessee is on tour in Texas. The world-famous group will be appearing in Hopkins County on Saturday August 18, 2018. Elvis Presley and the Blackwood family history goes back a long way to the early Memphis gospel music scene, before Elvis became the King of Rock and Roll. As a youth attending gospel singings at the Ellis Auditorium, Elvis met his idols the Blackwoods, J.D. Sumner and others. He even auditioned to become a Blackwood member. Their professional connections and personal friendships are interwoven into Southern Gospel Music history. Today’s third-generation Blackwood Quartet will present their “Gospel Side of Elvis” concert to local audiences at the Reilly Springs Community Center on August 18 at 6pm. Tickets are available at Good News Christian Bookstore inside the VF Outlet Mall in Sulphur Springs, Texas. Reilly Springs native Bill Owens will open the concert at 6pm, followed by Buddy and Ina Gore of Psalms 100, and the Blackwood Quartet will come onstage at 7pm.
Once owners of a tour bus company, Buddy and Ina hosted numerous trips to the National Quartet Conventions, Elvis Week and Memphis tours and other gospel-based trips and are familiar with the industry. This summer at the Gospel Music Fan Fair in Somerset, Kentucky, the pair received the Duo of the Year Award, one of many acquired during their 36-year music ministry. The close community that Southern Gospel Music enjoys was discussed in a KSST Good Morning Show interview with Enola Gay.
In 1936, The Blackwood Brothers Quartet consisted of Roy, Doyle and James Blackwood, and James’ son R.W. Within 20 years, and with the advent of television, the group had become so popular that they purchased a single engine plane to meet their engagements. For the next couple of years, R.W. piloted the singers and pianist across the nation. In June 1954, departing a large gospel event in Clanton, Alabama, the plane crashed and burned on a dirt runway, killing half the quartet. It was a loss that touched the lives of millions of gospel lovers. Following a season of grief as well as re-organization, the family went forward with their ministry, adding Cecil Blackwood as baritone and J.D. Sumner as bass singer. Since 2012, third-generation Mark Blackwood heads up the Blackwood Quartet which tours all over the world, while his uncle Ron heads up the Blackwood Singers, part of the Branson gospel community.
According to some, the fatal crash suffered during that early major gathering resulted in unprecedented unity within the family of gospel singers in the U.S. and played a part in the ongoing history of Southern Gospel Music. In 1957, Sumner and the Blackwoods formed the National Quartet Convention, which today has grown to a mega-size annual event headquartered at Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and features concerts, talent showcases, recording sessions, fan events and non-stop singing.