If anybody ever asks which gospel group was the first one to achieve anything, just reply that it was the Blackwoods.

Chances are good it will be the right answer.

If anybody ever asks which gospel group was the first one to achieve anything, just reply that it was the Blackwoods.

Chances are good it will be the right answer.

There are currently three Blackwoods groups on the road now, and one of them, the Blackwood Quartet, will perform in concert at 7 p.m. Sunday at the First Christian Church. Tickets will be $10 per person, and may be purchased in advance at the church office or at the door on Sunday.

“The Blackwoods started it all,” said Lynn B. Carter, who does bookings for the group and is executive assistant to Ron Blackwood, during a telephone  interview.

She’s done a lot of research on the Blackwoods, and is currently preparing to do a  biography on every Blackwood singing today. Carter also does arrangements for the annual Blackwood memorial concert.

“This year is a big year for us,” Carter said. “It’s the Blackwood family’s 80th year in gospel music and the 60th anniversary of the plane crash that killed R.W. Blackwood and Bill Lyles at Clanton, Ala.”

She said that the Blackwood Brothers Quartet was formed in 1934 by Roy Blackwood. Others in the quartet were Doyle Blackwood, youngest brother James Blackwood and Roy’s oldest son, R.W. Blackwood, who was the father of Ron Blackwood.

“They were the first  gospel group on national television,” Carter said. “In 1954 they were on Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts on CBS. They won first place and received a recording contract with RCA, and became the first gospel group to sell a million records. They founded the National Quartet Convention.”

The crash happened on June 30, 1954, when R.W. Blackwood, who piloted the group’s plane decided to do a test takeoff on the runway before dark.

“He wanted to see if it would be safe to get off the field in the dark,” Carter said. “The plane gave a little hop, went straight up, stalled and killed all on board. Mark Blackwood said it was the most pivotal thing that happened in gospel music. More than 5,000 were at the funeral.”

Lead singer James Blackwood said he would never sing again, but later changed his mind, and Cecil Blackwood took his brother’s place in the quartet. The music went on, but the flying didn’t

“They were dead set against taking a plane again, and that started the tour bus industry,” Carter said. “James Blackwood and J.D. Sumner went out and made the first tour bus.”

A replica  of the original tour bus is on display at the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

Through the decades, the group has accumulated numerous awards.
Blackwood is a name that has won more than eight Grammy Awards, 27 Dove Awards and sold more than 60 million recordings,

The Blackwoods can count many other performers among their fans.

Elvis Presley loved gospel music and attended many conventions the Blackwoods Brothers held in Memphis, Tenn., and asked them to sing at the funeral of his mother, Gladys Presley, in 1958.

“Mark Blackwood was at Farm Aid with Willie Nelson,” Carter said. “Willie has embraced the Blackwoods like his own family. Now we’re working on a recording and a tour with Charlie Daniels.”

She added that Ron Blackwood is has been the most sought after booking and manager in the music industry. Among those he has managed are Hank Williams Jr. and Tanya Tucker.

But Carter added that there’s one thing the Blackwoods value above their worldly success and awards.

“Over 1 million people have come to the saving knowledge of Jesus through their ministry,” she said.

Anyone wishing additional information regarding booking the Blackwood Quartet may contact Carter at 334-434-0819.