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George Beverly Shea, often described as "America's Beloved Gospel Singer," turns 100.

WASHINGTON D.C., USA (BosNewsLife)–  The famous baritone singer who for decades accompanied American evangelist Billy Graham on evangelistic ‘crusades’ around the world,  celebrated his 100th birthday Sunday, February 1.

George Beverly Shea,  often described as “America’s Beloved Gospel Singer,” was also to be the guest of honor Monday, February 2, at a private gathering of family and friends at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville, in the American state of North Carolina.

“On the ladder of life, I have reached rung 100, and I can see the scenery a little better than those who are still climbing,” Shea said of his 100th birthday in comments obtained by BosNewsLife.

He still sings. Last year, at the age of 99, Shea performed in front of large audiences, taking part in Franklin Graham’s Festivals in several parts of the country. He has also joined “third generation of Grahams” by performing at Will Graham Celebrations in the United States, organizers said.

He was born in the town of Winchester, in Canada’s province of Ontario, on February 1, 1909, where his father was a Wesleyan Methodist minister. Shea’s first public singing was in the choir of his father’s church and soon became one of the busiest men on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Team.


“Between Crusade, radio, and television dates in many countries, he has sung hundreds of concerts and recorded more than 70 albums of sacred music,” said the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA).

“Bev was the very first person I asked to join me in evangelism.  I have sometimes said that I would feel lost getting up to preach if Bev were not there to prepare the way through an appropriate song,” Billy Graham has said.  “I will always be grateful not only for his musical contributions to our Crusades but also for his warm spirit and his personal friendship over the years.”

For his “significant contributions to Gospel music,” Shea was inducted into the National Religious Broadcasting Hall of Fame in February 1996 and the Gospel Music Hall of Fame by the Gospel Music Association in 1978.  He has been nominated for 10 Grammy Awards, winning one in 1965.

Shea, who also had a career in network radio since the 1920s, holds “the world record” for singing to the most people in person, reaching hundreds of millions through Billy Graham’s worldwide Crusades, BGEA said. (With reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos).



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