"Mr. Gospel Singer of America" James Blackwood was born August 4, 1919 in Choctaw County, MS. In 1934 he teamed with siblings Roy and Doyle along with Roy's 13-year-old son R.W. to form the Blackwood Brothers, whose country gospel harmonies earned a devoted following throughout the south thanks to their regular appearances on Shreveport, LA superstation KWKH. The group disbanded during World War II but reunited in 1946, with Don Smith replacing brother Doyle; Bill Lyles assumed Roy's duties in 1950, two years before the Blackwoods made their first recordings for RCA. Tragedy struck on June 2, 1954 when R.W. and Lyles were killed in a plane crash; James immediately dissolved the Blackwood Brothers, only to reform the group soon after with his son James Jr., Roy's son Cecil and J.D. Sumner. the Blackwoods' new lineup enjoyed even greater success than their predecessors, winning the first of eight Grammy Awards for Best Gospel Performance in 1966; James additionally won seven consecutive Dove Awards for Male Vocalist of the Year during the 1970s, and was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1974, only the third living performer to be so honored. In 1981, he teamed with Sumner, Hovie Lister, Jake Hess and Rosie Rozell to form the gospel supergroup Masters V, and nine years later founded the James Blackwood Quartet, continuing to perform beyond his 80th birthday. Blackwood died in Memphis, TN, on February 3, 2002, at the age of 82. ~ Jason Ankeny
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