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J D Sumner - More about him

Hello again Mike,

Yes…be careful what you ask for because you may just get it. Ha….Ok …

John Daniel..or better known as just J.D. Sumner was probably the most famous Southern Gospel Quartet bass singers of all times. And, yes, he did tour with Elvis Presley starting in 1971 until Presley’s last concert in June 1977. Elvis had invited Sumner to one of his concerts in 1971 and it went so well Elvis invited him to tour with him and it lasted 6 years. However, Elvis’s notice of J.D was because Elvis loved the Blackwood Brothers and by that time J.D. was singing with the Blackwood Brothers.

It is all interesting history of Gospel Music. In the 1930’s, J.D., as a teenager, just idolized a bass singer by the name of Arnold Hyle who sang in what was then the only fairly well known male quartet called the Rangers. As a teenager J.D. would follow Arnold Hyle around because he wanted to be just like him and sing bass in a quartet.

After serving in the military, J.D. started with a quartet group he formed himself called the Sunshine Boys in the late 1940’s.

In about 1954 the Blackwood Quartet had become famous after winning a talent contest on the Arthur Godfrey show and that same year R.W. Blackwood and Bill Lysles, their bass singer, crashed their twin engine plane and were both killed in Clinton Alabama at a quartet rally. The Blackwoods then invited J.D. to be their bass singer and that is when he was noticed by Elvis, and it was then that J.D,’s fame started to skyrocket.

Later, J.D. went on to sing with the Stamps Quartet which he owned and then the Masters V Quartet. J.D. and James Blackwood together formed the National Quartet Convention in the 1950’s and the Gospel Music Association where they give out awards for achievement in gospel music.

In his later years, J.D. also joined and sang with the Bill Gaither Gatherings prior to his death in 1998 while on tour in North Carolina.

In addition to becoming a legend in Southern Gospel Music and writing over 600 songs, he also is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. It came about, not by his seeking the record, but in 1983 the Guinness Book of World Records recognized a recording by J.D. of the hymn “Blessed Assurance” put out in about 1966. According to Guinness, the song contained the lowest recorded note ever produced by a human voice which was a double low C. This recording was reissued in 1984 and was part of J.D. Sumner’s solo project called Thank God for Kids and once again in 1999 after his death in an album called “The Wait Is Over”.

It is my understanding that since that time the Guinness record has been surpassed a couple of times. At any rate, J.D. had a most colorful career. He was much loved and he lived the life he had always hoped for and in his lifetime he accomplished far more than he had ever dreamed of.

As a suggestion, if you could get the recording of J.D. Sumner’s “Blessed Assurance” and have it on your program, it would be really something for all of your loyal listeners to hear, me included. In this song, J.D. sings that double low C and it is so low that you can actually hear the silent spaces between the sound decibels. It is rather amazing.

I do hope this additional information is helpful. Thanks for all you do for us.

My best to you,
Larry Seiber