CLASSIC SOUNDS - The Blackwood Quartet brings ‘The Gospel Side of Elvis’ to Red Deer’s Memorial Centre on March 12th.

‘The Gospel Side of Elvis’ with the Blackwood Quartet

The men of the acclaimed Blackwood Quartet are gearing up for a City stop this month.

In something of a tribute to Elvis Presley’s own interpretation of gospel music, they perform March 12th at the Memorial Centre, with showtime set for 7 p.m.

In its 80-plus year history the group has landed eight Grammy Awards, 27 Dove Awards, appeared on numerous television programs, recorded more than 200 albums and sold in excess of one million records.

Meanwhile, this particular tour has a special purpose.

“The tour is called The Gospel Side of Elvis,” explains Mark Blackwood. “Elvis loved gospel music and he loved my family – we go way back. My father, Cecil Blackwood, went to Sunday school and church together with him in Tennessee. All they wanted to do was to be gospel singers.”

According to the group’s web site, the Blackwood’s legacy in gospel began in 1934 when brothers Roy, Doyle and James Blackwood along with Roy’s son R.W. formed The Blackwood Brothers Quartet.

Bill Shaw and Bill Lyles eventually join the group and together with James and R.W. Blackwood, this quartet went on to be featured on several TV shows included Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters, Hee Haw and the Arthur Godfrey Talent Show in 1954.

A few weeks later, that same year in Clanton, Alabama, tragedy struck when two members of the group, R.W. and 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 forward.

However, R.W.’s youngest brother, Cecil, (and Mark’s dad) joined the group along with the bass singer J.D. Sumner.

Mark joined his family in the Blackwood Brothers Quartet in 1986, where he sang lead for many years alongside his dad and many other talented singers.

He said the group has made a point out of working alongside some top names in the industry as a whole, including Willy Nelson at his Farm Aid events and they recently made plans to work with Bob Dylan. “Singing gospel music has been uplifting and edifying,” he said. “When we’re standing up there singing to the people, nothing is a bigger blessing to us than that. We do pray that people are being blessed by the music,” he added of the opportunity to share the gospel message. “Every night is a highlight for me when I get to do this again.

“The spirit of the Lord uses the simplicity and the honesty of four guys singing close harmonies that will never go out of style. And given the opportunity, it will always touch people’s hearts.”

Mark also worked as a producer on the Grammy award-winning Blackwood Brothers albums of the early 1980s.

Eventually, in 2012, Mark formed the Blackwood Quartet. The group tours regularly and brings the word of Christ through song to both believers and non-believers alike.

Over the years, they’ve seen their popularity grow among Elvis tribute artist fans, as well, he said. “His first love was gospel music.” Mark also believes that had Elvis lived longer, he would have retired as a gospel singer as well.

“It’s what he did in his quiet time, his down time, his recreation time. He sold millions of records and won three Grammy awards – and all three were for his gospel records.”

Mark was in his mid-20 when Elvis died in 1977, and he’s got some strong memories of him. “My dad was recording at RCA Studios in Studio A in Nashville once, and we got word that Elvis was in Studio B. My dad said, ‘Do you want to see Elvis?’ I said absolutely! So we walked to the door of Studio B, and the security guard said, ‘Hey Cecil, how are you doing?’ Dad said, ‘We are recording over here and we want to see Elvis.

“Elvis was standing there in the control room, he looked up and saw my dad and said, ‘Hey Cecil, how are you doing?’ Then he looked at me and said, ‘Hey Mark, how are you?’”

In 1958, Elvis sent a plane to North Carolina and brought the group to Memphis to sing at the funeral of his mother Gladys. Mark’s uncle James would also be called upon to sing How Great Thou Art at Elvis’ funeral.

“He loved the Blackwoods, he loved gospel music, he loved the Lord and he loved the church. It was his first love.”

Tickets are available at the Black Knight Ticket Centre by calling 403-755-6626 or visiting

Just Posted

Klaus testifies he falsely confessed to triple-homicide in Mr. Big sting

Klaus said confessions were made in order to further position within criminal organization

Red Deer River Naturalists host guest speaker

Bradley Peter will talk about new methods of lake monitoring

Superintendent Ken Foster sees progress in city policing

Red Deer RCMP Superintendent has been on the job for a year and has seen success

Accused Jason Klaus testifies in triple-homicide trial in Red Deer

Klaus charged with three counts of first-degree murder, one count of arson

WATCH: Red Deerians come together to ‘light the night’

Traditional Red Deer Lights the Night sees thousands

BC RCMP hunt for white SUV that rammed cruiser

Kamloops RCMP are looking for a white SUV headed north on the Yellowhead Highway

Canadian screen stars want ‘action’ from industry meeting on sexual misconduct

‘Of course there’s been sexual harassment here. Absolutely. No question.’

Opioid prescriptions up across Canada: report

The report shows the number of opioid prescriptions rose by almost seven per cent, while daily doses on average dropped

Russian meddling has implications for Canada

Kosovo president Hashim Thaci warns that Russian meddling has implications for Canada

Health Canada hints at government’s plans for legal pot

Health warnings, plain covers for pot packs under proposed regulations

Washington governor tells BC don’t be ‘daunted’ by Trump

“I want to assure this assembly that no matter who is in the White House, it won’t affect Washington state’s relationship with Canada or British Columbia.”

Feds plan to spend billions on housing strategy

However much of the $15.9 billion will not be spent until after the next election in 2019

David Cassidy, teen idol and ‘Partridge Family’ star, dies at 67

Cassidy announced earlier this year he had been diagnosed with dementia

Most Read