Skip to comments.George Beverly Shea, Billy Graham's Booming Baritone, Dies (He was 104)
Posted on 04/17/2013 7:39:13 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
Graham's senior by ten years, Shea was a mainstay as the worship singer with a deep voice, who preceding the famous evangelist in song for every crusade for 60 years.
"Bev was one of the most humble, gracious men I have ever known and one of my closest friends," said Graham in a statement released by the BGEA. "I loved him as a brother. My prayer for his wife, Karlene, and his children, Ron and Elaine, is that God will strengthen them during this time."
Graham said he first met Shea while in Chicago when he was on Moody Radio. Since Shea first sang for him in 1943 during the radio hymn program, "Songs in the Night," Shea has faithfully carried the Gospel in song to every continent and every state in the U.S.
"As a young man starting my ministry, I asked Bev if he would join me. He said yes and for over 60 years we had the privilege of ministering together across the country and around the world," Graham said.
The booming baritone was the recipient of ten Grammy nominations, a Grammy Award in 1965, and was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Grammy organization in 2011. He was also a member of the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame (1978), and was inducted into the Religious Broadcasting Hall of Fame in February 1996. Shea was also inducted into the inaugural class of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists' "Hall of Faith" in 2008.
Born in Winchester, Ontario, Canada, where his father was a Wesleyan Methodist minister, Shea's first public singing was in the choir of his father's church. Between Billy Graham crusade, radio, and television dates in many countries, he sang at hundreds of concerts and recorded more than 70 albums of sacred music. At age 23, he composed the music to one of his best known solos, "I'd Rather Have Jesus." He was also known for his rendition of "How Great Thou Art" and his inspirational "The Wonder of It All."
"Even though Bev was 10 years older than my father, he never acted his age," said Graham's son, Franklin Graham. "He was absolute fun to be with. Bev was one of the most gracious and unassuming men I have known. He was always encouraging and supportive, a man of deep faith and strong commitment to Jesus Christ."
Shea is survived by his wife, Karlene, and his children from his first marriage, Ronald and Elaine. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Erma, who died in 1976.
Ron, born in 1948 in Chicago, graduated from Trinity International University in Deerfield, Ill., in 1971. For more than 30 years, Ron has been an associate in Crusade ministry through the BGEA, assisting in preparatory work for evangelistic crusades involving Graham and more recently for Franklin Graham's ministry. He is married to the former Cathy Ford.
Funeral service arrangements for Shea are still being planned.
Oh my! I didn’t know he was still alive. May he sing with the angels.
What a testimony!
What a voice!
I can hear him singing “His Eye is on the Sparrow.”
I still remember when the Billy Graham Crusades were shown on network television stations during prime time at least until the late 1980’s. Compare that to the trash of today. So sad what we have become. “Well done George, my good and faithful servant. “
My favorite of his was “I’d Rather Have Jesus”. He sang it with passion.
And he wrote it too.
My favorite too.
I always think of him singing “I’d Rather Have Jesus”
I sang with the Billy Graham Crusade back in the early 80’s. With one rehearsal, Cliff Barrows got a 3000 voice choir in shape for a week of services in Boston MA. George Beverly Shea sang every night. I especially remember his magnificent bass-baritone voice singing “I’d Rather Have Jesus”.
RIP to a Wonderful Gospel Singer.
Sorry to hear of his passing. The man had a voice like a Fender Precision Bass. He and Billy were a wonderful duo at spreading the Gospel. Rest in peace Mr. Shea.
“.....I’d ra-ther have Jesus - than ANY-thing - this world - affords - today.” So sang our dear departed brother on many occasions.
Just think of all the people Brother Shea is meeting in Heaven who are telling him how they walked the aisle to give their heart to Christ in a Billy Graham revival, while Mr. Shea sang an invitation hymn or joined a choir in singing it.
“Bev” Shea was a Canadian, and adopted as a child. If you check it out, many individuals who did well in life, as well as doing good in life, were adopted. Dave Thomas, founder of “Wendy’s” was adopted.
I have a cousin in Florida who was born out of wedlock and adopted, became a school teacher, and now, a widow and 94 years old is the dearest sweetest soul you’d ever want to meet.......and NEVER complains or grumbles about anything; which, like Mr. Shea, may be one of the reasons she’s lived so long and is still in amazing condition for her age.
George was the man. He lived it, worked it, and loved it every day and made himself an example. May he enter into his Eternal reward singing in the choirs of heaven.
Heres a nice example of him singing it in 1965. . .
Thanks for the link. Enjoyed it.
That was Ethel Waters' song.