This week, George Beverly Shea celebrates his 102nd birthday. For many of you this may not mean a lot, but it should. Mr. Shea started out singing on the radio in Chicago for the Moody Bible Institute but eventually was asked by Rev. Billy Graham to lead the singing during his worldwide crusades. For untold numbers of us, Billy Graham’s preaching is forever connected with Mr. Shea’s singing and some of the great hymns of the faith just “belong” to him. For me, there are several of these great old songs that, when I hear them in my head, it is George Beverly Shea’ voice that I hear.
George Beverly Shea has been under contract to RCA records for 26 years and was signed to his first recording contract by the same guy that signed Elvis. Mr. Shea holds the record for the Guinness Book of World Records mark for singing in front of the most people ever, a combined audience of 220 million. He’s recorded more than 500 vocal solos, more than 70 albums and performed on radio, TV and in film. He’s been nominated for a Grammy award ten times won one in 1965. This week, Mr. Shea will also travel to Los Angeles where he will receive a lifetime achievement award from the Recording Academy (in other words, a Grammy Award). Although Mr. Shea has never been as popular as Elvis or even any of the current crop of recording artists, his longevity goes far beyond almost any other recording artist. Generations of Christians have been captivated by his singing and generations of Christian musicians have been inspired by him.
So, happy birthday Mr. Shea and congratulations. I suspect that you have no idea just how many people whose lives you have changed. We won’t ever meet on earth, but when the time comes, I’m sure that many of us will stop by your place in heaven to say thank you.
For more, here is a great article where I found most of my facts.