George Beverly Shea on God’s Blessings

By   •   January 31, 2011

Legendary gospel singer George Beverly Shea received his Lifetime Achievement Grammy award today. Read below as he discusses his friendship with Billy Graham, favorite ministry memories, and thoughts on turning 102.

BGEA: What are your thoughts on being selected for the Grammy award?

Shea: It was a great surprise. The president of the recording academy phoned me about a month ago. I couldn’t figure out why he would be calling me, because it’s been a while since I’ve made a new record. I have received a Grammy before, but it was back in 1965. I was very interested to hear about the award. The record executive was very friendly to talk to. He even knew some people at RCA I used to know.

BGEA: Another exciting event upon us is your 102nd birthday. With this lifetime of wonderful blessings from God, what are some of your favorite memories?

Shea: I’ve really enjoyed going to places like New York, Nashville and Hollywood to do recordings with different arrangers and composers. Back in those days, they used a live orchestra that was right there in studio. One of my favorite recordings I can remember is Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho. They wrote a new verse to it, and it was fun to sing.

In my travels, Australia is quite a memory. I went on a musical tour with Cliff Barrows and Ted Smith. Never forget those times.

In 1966 Billy, Cliff, Ted Smith and I went to Viet Nam for 10 days and had the privilege of visiting different places. We had services where 2,500 men were present, and 1,000 men were in the woods, guarding us. We sang for them and Billy spoke. Through the years, I’ve actually met three men that were there that time.

Another thing that stands out to me was Korea in 1973. We were there for a week for a series of meetings in different places. The Sunday meeting was held at a black top area for wartime landing. They had the black top painted off in squares, and there were 4,500 people in a square. We had a total of 1,100,000 people there. We are on a platform 16 feet high, and I will never forget the image of all those people as I sang How Great Thou Art with a 10,000-voice choir.

BGEA: Tell us how your friendship with Billy Graham began.

Shea: In 1943, I was an announcer in Chicago at Moody (WMBI). One morning on the other side of my glass door stood a tall blond young man named Billy Graham. He came to tell about his interest in my program, Hymn From the Chapel. That is how we met and we became acquainted from there. He was 21 and I was 31. That’s how we became acquainted. It has been a blessing to be friends with him.

BGEA: Do you still sing in public?

Shea: I still sing at the Cove (Billy Graham Training Center), which is about 15 miles away from my house. I sing there about eight times year, for senior adult events and at Christmastime.

BGEA: What advice do you have for other singers?

Shea: I never put my hand on a knob to open a door. The Lord opened doors for me by having Billy Graham ask me to come sing. And I never even planned on being a gospel singer!

BGEA: Valentines Day is coming up soon. What advice can you offer to couples in keeping their marriages strong?

Shea: I’ve been married to Karlene for 25 years. And it’s been bliss spelled with capital “b!” One of the reasons for our wonderful marriage is that I tell her every day that I love her. You have to work at marriage–do kind things, remember birthdays and anniversaries and enjoy one another’s friendship. Serve together–open your home to others so they can come in and enjoy it.

BGEA: As someone who has walked with the Lord for quite some time, what advice do you have for other Christians?

Shea: Keep your devotions, study the Word, enjoy His presence, and learn from Him daily.

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116 Comments

  1. DeAnn says:

    Happy Birthday Mr Shea! You have certainly “run the good race” and we have all been rewarded with your presence here on earth…for 102 years!!

  2. Evelyn says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MR. SHEA!! Thank you for the years of sharing Jesus through song and word and your life.

  3. Diane says:

    Happy Birthday Bev!! I was so honored to work on your exhibit last year! I'm glad you are doing well and still making a joyful noise! Many blessings!

  4. LJS says:

    Mr. Shea, I want to wish you a very special Birthday greeting and congratulate you on the Grammy award this week. It is always a blessing to hear your voice.

  5. KathyK says:

    My Dad is smiling from heaven. He sang many of your songs in a quartet at our church. He loved your voice and ministry. This tribute to you has reinforced my Christian life today with so many memories of my Christian parents. God Bless You

  6. Irene says:

    My father went to be wit the Lord just over three weeks ago. He bought your records when I was a little girl and I grew up listening to you sing. Over the past five years dad was housebound and his great joy was listening to your D.V.D's God bless you for the joy you gave to him.

  7. NORMA FROM MICHIGAN 2-6-11 says:

    HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY. I HAVE ENJOYED YOUR SINGING FOR YEARS. MY MOTHER ALSO LOVED TO HEAR YOU SING. SHE IS NOW IN HEAVEN FOR ABOUT 13 OR 14 YEARS. GOD BLESS YOU WITH MANY MORE YEARS. ALSO, GOD BLESS YOUR FAMILY. HEAVEN IS REALLY MEANING MORE TO ME AS MY HUSBAND OF 60 YEARS JUST PASSED AWAY A YEAR AGO ON 2-2-10.

  8. Mary says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY and thanks be unto our Father for your spiritual love you have spread through God all over the world. Keep on tarrying for Jesus!

  9. Mutongole says:

    Mr. Shea am so happy to learn that God has blessed you to 102 birthday. Glory be to His great name. I love you and enjoy your lovely music every Sunday program. Surely God has blessed your inspired your Ministry with Dr. Billy and Cliff Barrows. I Am just making it to 50 in April and thought am too old. May God continue to bless you in this life and the life to come.

  10. Ron says:

    I first heard you on a record shortly after my coming to the Lord as an engineering student in Nairobi Kenya in 1957. You have been such an inspiration to me through the years. The song that has most impressed me is ” He was there” Wherever we look and in whatever circumstance we find ourselves God is there. I have been in three of B.G's campaigns as a worker in 3 different countries Kenya, England and South Africa. May God bless you richly.