The Archive Collection

George Beverly Shea: The Early Years

May 1, 2013

And now, before Mr. Graham brings tonight’s message, here is America’s beloved Gospel singer, George Beverly Shea to sing for you.” For more than 60 years of ministry that’s how Cliff Barrows introduced Bev Shea to the Crusade audiences.

In his book Just As I Am, Billy Graham writes, “I would feel lost getting up to preach if Bev were not there to prepare the way with 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. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard him utter an unkind or critical word about anyone.” He went on to say, “Bev was the very first person I asked to join me in evangelism. He was well known in the Midwest, but at the same time he was humble; he couldn’t say no, even to a Fuller Brush salesman! It was God who brought us together. Bev will always be remembered as ‘America’s beloved Gospel singer’, whose rich bass baritone voice has touched the hearts of millions in our Crusades and through his recordings.

Over his many years Bev Shea recorded more than 70 albums of sacred music. At 23 he wrote the music to one of his best known solos, “I’d Rather Have Jesus.” He was the recipient of 10 Grammy nominations, a Grammy Award in 1965, and he was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Grammy organization in 2011.

On April 16, at the age of 104 after a brief illness, Bev Shea went to be with our Lord. He will be greatly missed.

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