How Sweet the Sound

By   •   August 25, 2009   •   Topics: ,

The two-month-long tribute, “George Beverly Shea: How Sweet The Sound,” celebrates 100 years of “America’s beloved gospel singer.”

“Bev has accomplished so much and I find his life an inspiration; rarely do you meet a man as humble as Bev,” said Debra Cordial, director of the Billy Graham Library. “It is because of his inspiring life that we wanted to honor and bring to light so many of the wonderful milestones that he has achieved during his 80 years of ministry, and 100 years of life.”

The tribute includes items from Shea’s childhood in Canada to his many years spent as an integral part of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Among memorabilia on display at the Library will be: the violin his father gave to him when he was a boy; handwritten sheet music by Shea; the first record he ever made; and even a personal note from Ruth Graham to Shea as she attempted to play matchmaker between him and his now wife, Karlene.

The son of a pastor, Shea was born in Winchester, Ontario, and spent most of his formative years in Canada before moving to the United States. Shea began a singing career that made him a nationally-known performer and composer, writing such songs as “I’d Rather Have Jesus.”

In 1943, Shea sang for Billy Graham on Graham’s Chicago-based radio program, and became a permanent member of the Graham Crusade team in 1947. Shea has sung in front of more than 210 million people at the Crusades.

“At the beginning and all through these years, I have felt so inadequate,” Shea said in 2002. “God is gracious in giving me this privilege to sing a quiet Gospel song before a man of such stature lifts up the Lord Jesus to great crowds and in such a precious and faithful way.”

A recording artist with more than 70 albums, Shea has inspired millions through his songs and voice. He is the recipient of ten Grammy nominations and one Grammy Award, and a member of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.

The Sheas make their home in Montreat, N.C., less than a mile away from the Graham home. In February, Shea celebrated his 100th birthday.

The George Beverly Shea tribute runs until October 31, and is free to the public.

Learn about the music and mission of George Beverly Shea:

Part of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, the Billy Graham Library opened in June 2007, and has since had more than 300,000 visitors from around the world. The Library is open Monday –Saturday, 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Visit the Billy Graham Library Web site for more information on the Library and the tribute or to schedule a group tour.