The incredible songs, the amazing stories, the history of a legend, all comes to the stage firsthand in "The Gospel Side of Elvis," starring the Blackwood Quartet. Two shows are scheduled at the Mars Theatre on Feb. 8. Tickets are still available for the 2 p.m. show but the 7 p.m. show is sold out (call to be placed on the wait list). Tickets can be purchased at www.marstheatre.com, Springfield City Hall, theater box office or call 912-754-1118.
The year was 1934. Brothers Roy, Doyle and James Blackwood, along with Roy’s son R.W., formed what was to become the most beloved and respected gospel group of all time, the Blackwood Brothers Quartet. This quartet went on to be featured on several TV shows including "Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters," the beloved American classic "Hee Haw" and the prestigious "Arthur Godfrey Talent Show" in 1954.
A few weeks later, that same year, tragedy struck when two members of the group, R.W. Blackwood and Bill Lyles, were killed in a plane crash. After the accident, many fans and critics alike believed that the quartet would not be able to go on.
However, as fate would have it, R.W.’s youngest brother, Cecil Blackwood joined the group along with the bass singer, J.D. Sumner, silencing any doubts the public had about the quartet continuing to be a force in gospel music.
Cecil Blackwood was a childhood friend of Elvis Presley. They attended Sunday school together and formed their first gospel quartet called The Songfellas long before Elvis went on to become the king of rock and roll. The association between the two families was lifelong.
In 1958, Elvis sent a plane to North Carolina and brought the Blackwoods to sing at his mother’s funeral. James Blackwood would sing "How Great Thou Art" at Elvis' funeral.
Cecil Blackwood’s son, Mark, joined his family in the Blackwood Brothers Quartet in 1986, where he sang lead for many years alongside his dad, Cecil and many other talented singers. Today Mark Blackwood fronts The Blackwood Quartet and continues the tradition of his family and their association with Elvis Presley. In "The Gospel Side of Elvis," the group performs Presley’s personal favorites including "Amazing Grace," "You’ll Never Walk Alone" and "Crying In The Chapel."
The Blackwood family has received nine Grammy awards, is in the Grammy Hall of Fame, the Memphis Music Hall of Fame, the Nashville Music Hall of Fame, the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame and many more!
Bill Gaither has said, "The Blackwood name is the best known name in gospel music worldwide." The group tours regularly and brings the word of Christ through song, to both believers and non-believers alike.
Tickets are also on sale for other 2020 shows, including magician/ventriloquist/illusionist Andy Gross (April 25), The Ladies of Soul (Aug. 15) and Jim Curry Presents the Music of John Denver (Sept. 24). Visit www.marstheatre.com to learn more about these shows and upcoming movie schedules.