Famed quartet coming to Hale’s Chapel

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, June 21, 2012

The famed Blackwood Quartet is coming to Hale’s Chapel Baptist Church for two concerts, at 6 p.m. Saturday and at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. The public is invited to attend the concerts, which are free of charge.

“We are very excited and honored to have the Blackwood Quartet at Hale’s Chapel,” said Lynn Carter, Blackwood Quartet representative. “The Blackwood Quartet began as the Blackwood Brothers Quartet and has maintained excellence in gospel music over the years.”

“The Blackwood Brothers Quartet is legendary,” Carter said. “The Blackwood Brothers appeared on the Arthur Godfrey Talent Scout television program. They won the talent show the night they performed and that led them to national prominence.”

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The Blackwood Brothers Quartet was the first gospel group to appear on national television and they were at the top of the gospel charts as partners with the Statesman Quartet. And then tragedy struck.”

Carter said that, on June 30, 1954, the Blackwood Brothers Quartet was in Clanton to do a show in connection with the Chilton County Peach Festival.

“The Blackwood Brothers had just begun to travel by airplane because it was faster and would allow the quartet members more time to spend with their families in Memphis. According to what was told and reported, R.W. Blackwood, who was the pilot and quartet baritone singer, wanted to make a test flight because the runway at Clanton was not lighted and they would be taking off after dark.”

Carter said a sudden wind change made flying difficult and, as a group of spectators watched in horror, the plane that was carrying Blackwood, quartet member and bass singer, Bill Lyles, and Johnny Ogburn, the 18-year-old son of the festival director crashed and burned.

“All of America was saddened because the Blackwood Brothers were popular among those who loved country music all across the country,” Carter said.

“The quartet didn’t have any concerts scheduled for the next couple of months and took that time to decide which direction they would take. They reorganized with J.D. Sumner as bass singer. They had to try really hard to get J.D. Sumner from the popular Sunshine Boys Quartet. But, with the Blackwood Quartet, J.D. Sumner flourished a song writer and singer.”

The Blackwood Quartet was the first group to travel by custom bus and, as they made their way across the country, they picked up fans by the droves.

“Only the Chuck Wagon Gang has sold more gospel records than the Blackwood Quartet,” Carter said.

The Blackwood Quartet has a storied history and continues to attract crowds wherever they take the stage.

“We are very fortunate to have them at Hale’s Chapel,” Carter said. “This is a great opportunity for people in our area to hear this marvelous quartet in concert. We invite all of those who enjoy gospel music to attend one or both of the concerts. The Blackwood Quartet will be singing all of the old favorite gospel songs. They will touch your heart with their songs and their messages of faith and hope.”