CHARLOTTE, N.C., Jan. 28, 2013 — George Beverly Shea, longtime Crusade soloist and friend of Billy Graham, will be honored next month at The Billy Graham Library with a special exhibit. “How Sweet the Sound: A Tribute to George Beverly Shea” will celebrate “America’s Beloved Gospel Singer” and the impact he has had around the world.
“George Beverly Shea, an original member of the Billy Graham Team, has played such a vital role in this ministry,” said Tom Phillips, vice president of The Billy Graham Library. “We are excited to unveil many items to the public for the first time, to honor the wonderful life of Mr. Shea, yes, but more importantly to honor God to whom Mr. Shea gives all the glory.”
The tribute will include pieces of memorabilia from Shea’s early career in Chicago to his many years spent as an integral part of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Highlights of the display include: the actual piano on which he composed the music to the popular hymn “I’d Rather Have Jesus;” his Lifetime Achievement Award from the Grammy association and the suit he wore for the ceremony; a Western Electric Model 633A “Salt Shaker” microphone that Mr. Shea used at WMBI in Chicago in the early 1940s; and more.
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. 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.
In his autobiography Just As I Am, Billy Graham had this to say about George Beverly Shea: “I have sometimes said that I would feel lost getting up to preach if Bev were not there to prepare the way through an appropriate song. But I will always be grateful not only for his musical contributions to our Crusades but also for his warm spirit and his personal friendship over the years.
A world-class baritone, Shea has recorded more than 70 albums, and among other honors and achievements, was the recipient of ten Grammy nominations, a Grammy Award in 1965, and a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Grammy organization in 2011.
The Sheas make their home in Montreat, N.C., less than a mile away from the Graham home. On Feb. 1, the opening day of the exhibit, Shea will celebrate his 104th birthday. Guests will have the opportunity to write a personal birthday greeting to Mr. Shea during the opening week of the exhibit.
The George Beverly Shea tribute exhibit runs from Feb. 1 through March 30 and is free to the public.
About The Billy Graham Library
The Billy Graham Library opened in 2007 and has since had more than 650,000 visitors from around the world. Admission to the Library is free. For more information on the Library and upcoming events, or to schedule a group tour, please visit www.billygrahamlibrary.org.