About James Webre Blackwood
James Webre Blackwood (4 August 1919 – 3 February 2002) was an American Gospel singer and one of the founding members of legendary Southern Gospel quartet The Blackwood Brothers.
James Webre Blackwood was born on August 14, 1919, in Choctaw County, Mississippi, to sharecropper William Emmett Blackwood and his wife Carrie Prewitt Blackwood. He was the youngest of four children, which included his brother Roy Blackwood (December 24, 1900 – March 21, 1971), sister Lena Blackwood Cain (December 31, 1904 – March 1, 1990), and brother Doyle Blackwood (August 21, 1911 – October 3, 1974).
In 1926, James and his brother Doyle had developed an interest in gospel music, singing at church gatherings, camp meetings, schools and any place they saw the opportunity. During this period, the brothers sang on WTJS in Jackson, Tennessee.
Blackwood formed a singing group with his nephew R. W. and his brothers Roy and Doyle. The Blackwood Brothers first broadcast was on radio station WHEF, AM 1500, in Kosciusko, Mississippi in 1934. The quartet soon began broadcasting on the larger WJDX in Jackson, Mississippi, later moving to Shreveport, Louisiana in 1939, and Shenandoah, Iowa in 1940.
In early WWII, the quartet temporarily disbanded as James joined the war effort as a factory welder in California. As the other members joined James in California, they resumed singing and the quartet was based in San Diego, California from 1944 to 1945 as they continued simultaneously working in the war related industries. After the war, they returned to Iowa in September 1945 resuming their broadcast on KMA Radio in Shenandoah. 1950 found the quartet moving to Memphis, Tennessee and radio station WMPS.
In 1951 they signed a recording contract with RCA Victor Records.
Soon they began traveling to their concert appearances by private plane with R.W. Blackwood and bass singer Bill Lyles as pilot and co-pilot. On 12 June 1954, the Blackwood Brothers won first place on the CBS radio and TV program Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts Show. On 30 June 1954 in Clanton, Alabama, the quartet was preparing for concert at the airport for the Chilton County Peach Festival. During a few practice touch-and-go landings the plane crashed and R. W., Bill Lyles and family friend Johnny Ogburn died in the crash. The quartet re-organized following the plane crash with R. W.'s younger brother, Cecil Blackwood, baritone, and J.D. Sumner, bass. In 1956 the re-organized group appeared on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scout Show and won a second time.
In the mid-1950s the quartet started traveling in a customized bus, another 'first' for the group.
James Blackwood, Cecil Blackwood and J. D. Sumner founded the National Quartet Convention in 1957, originally a 3-day event held at Ellis Auditorium in Memphis, Tennessee .
In 1964 the Blackwood Brothers chartered the Gospel Music Association.
After singing with The Blackwood Brothers Quartet for 47 years, James (together with four other veteran gospel singers, Hovie Lister, Jake Hess, J. D. Sumner and Rosie Rozell) formed the Masters V Quartet, the highlight being a joint concert with The Rivertown Boys in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. In 1990 he formed the James Blackwood Quartet along with Ken Turner, Brad White and Ray Shelton. Rosie Rozell would sing tenor in the initial performances, but Larry Ford would quickly become the permanent tenor as Rosie's health deteriorated. This group, like James' preceding groups, would also receive a Grammy nomination.
On May 4, 1939, James Blackwood married Miriam (Mim) Grantham. The couple had two sons James Jr. and Billy. He died of a stroke on February 3, 2002, and is buried at Forest Hill Cemetery East, in Shelby County, Tennessee.
GMA Dove Awards and Others
Blackwood Brothers Quartet (formed 1934) had as original members the brothers Roy BLACKWOOD (b. 1900), tenor; Doyle BLACKWOOD (b. 1908), bass; James BLACKWOOD (b. 1918), lead; and Roy's son R. W. BLACKWOOD (b. 1921), baritone. The group recorded over 200 albums, received 27 Dove Awards, 9 Grammy Awards, was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, and brought in other family members, with some group name changes, as they have continued the gospel music tradition over nearly seven decades.