January 24, 2019

David’s Psalm

It’s Tuesday, January 22, and I’m in my hotel room, having just gotten back from breakfast. The weekend was amazing! If you’ve been on Facebook, you’ve seen shots and videos that will show you how wonderful it was. We introduced our new tenor, Will Shaw, and featured him on a song from The Journey CD, David’s Psalm.  The song was taken from Psalm 27 and expanded into a beautiful narrative of dependence and reliance on God for all we have.  The lyrics are:

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is my strength and my Redeemer; whom shall I fear? If God is for us, who can be against us, for He, the Lord, is with us!”

We had recorded that song many years ago, around 1976, and at the time, Jim Murray sang it beautifully. Will is still learning our songs and blend but he has grabbed this song and claimed it as his own. The video sounds are not professional and yet I think you can see and hear the potential we have. We have introduced new material this year and will continue to do so in the months ahead. 

We are past the halfway point in our stay in Europe and from Vienna we make our way to Bonn, Germany on Thursday. We covet your prayers for safety there. I know Germany is relatively safe and yet, there are stories coming out that are of concern.  

Tomorrow is picture day as we will need to update our banner and promotional pictures.  We will get shots with James Burton too, as we hope to get an invitation to a very special venue in the next month. I will keep you informed on it. James has become a dear friend, and his wife, Louise, is one of our biggest fans. She and James secured our visit on the Mike Huckabee Show on January 3, and it was beyond our wildest dreams for success. We cherish their friendship and realize what an international star James is. We NEVER take advantage of that but we do enjoy his company. I have never heard James say an unkind word to anyone. Some interrupt him in the middle of a meal, but he’s always very gracious to them. We Christians are commanded to do the same. All are equal at the foot of the cross. There are no rich, no poor, but all bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. If you are a child of God, remember how blessed you really are! Many are called but few are chosen. I’m so thankful that God chose me. Did He choose you? By accepting Jesus as Lord, you have been chosen and are accepted in the beloved and destined for eternity with God, your Heavenly Father. 

January 18, 2019

All Things Are Possible

As I sit here in a hotel room in Vienna, Austria I am reflecting on the recent two concerts in Denmark and Norway.  Both venues were packed with friends and fans who came to hear Dennis Jale, the TCB band and the Imperials, along with Dennis’ band, the Jam Gang. The receptions were amazing and the love expressed to us was genuine. We have been given a great opportunity and it comes a with responsibility, to be honest in who we are off stage as well as on stage. 

We had a long flight from home and with no sleep on the plane, we arrived in Aalborg, Denmark and had an hour-long drive to Randers. With two hours of sleep, we had to make our way to the Memphis Mansion, owned and operated by our good friend, Henrik Knudsen.  As usual, the crowd was waiting for us and welcomed us with open arms. After the reception, we got the chance to sing Sweet Spirit into the phone of a man whose mother was sick and unable to be there. She was crying over the phone as we sang. 

Our first concert was in Randers and the crowd loved the show. The hour was late when we got back to the room, and we had an early flight so with very little sleep we made the one hour drive back to the Aalborg airport and flew to Oslo. We got to the hotel around three o’clock and left at four for the venue and sound check. After the show, we had a meal at the hotel. I had made a get-well video for a lady named Lisa and, as I was leaving the gathering, her husband was there and had brought Lisa with him. She was in a wheelchair, and as I spoke to her, she told me with tears in her eyes, that the doctors had given her two months to live! I felt impressed to pray for her right there in the lobby of the hotel.

I’m no saint, but I recognize when God says “pray” and I did. At breakfast the next morning, they were there, and their friend came over and said she had felt the warmth through her body as I prayed for her. She slept through the night, which was not normal for her. Would you pray that God would touch Lisa in Norway and confound the doctors who had given her no hope? All things are possible with God and healing was paid for on the cross of Calvary over 2000 years ago. Jesus said, “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you”. I simply asked and we will see what God will do. Thank you for your supporting prayers and know that I can’t do this alone. 

January 10, 2019

The Imperials and James Burton on the Mike Huckabee Show

The new year opened with a tremendous opportunity for the Imperials. On January 4, we made our debut with our new tenor, Will Shaw, on the Mike Huckabee Show on the TBN television network. What a reception! The Governor couldn’t have been nicer. He welcomed us with our good friend, legendary lead guitarist and rock and roll hall of Famer, James Burton. James and I were interviewed by the Governor and afterward, we went center stage for our first song, The Wonder of You was one we sang with Elvis many times. James played his familiar guitar licks and we sang the song. After a short break, we came back on with a song I wrote lyrics to, This Train, and James helped us out on the instrumental lead solo. A third song was added for their internet audience and James was featured throughout that song, Johnnie B. Goode. You may find all three of these songs on YouTube and I encourage you to watch. I would say we couldn’t have been more pleased with our reception, the sound, and the production. I have put two of the three songs on my Facebook page and they are exciting to watch and to listen to.

On January 9, we board a plane for Denmark to begin our three-week tour of Europe. Will Shaw will be with us for his first tour as tenor for the Imperials. We will introduce him to European audiences and I have a feeling they will love him. He’s an amazing singer and people will get to experience him firsthand.  We will have many new songs and hope the tour is successful. Our host, Dennis Jale, has done a lot of work putting this tour together and I think it’s going to be a great one.

I know how hard change is for people. Life is full of changes. We change from birth to toddler, to the first day in school, to Junior High, High School, college for some, marriage for others. If we don’t change, we stagnate and get complacent. So, I challenge you to not resist changes in life but embrace them. Sometimes change is for the better and sometimes it’s for worse. However, complacency is not an option in life if you want to grow. In the Christian life, we are constantly changing and being molded into the image of our savior, Jesus Christ. He will not allow us to become complacent.  May 2019 be a year of growth for you and for me. I want more of God’s best that can only be realized when we follow His lead and walk obediently in His footsteps.

January 3, 2019

Make 2019 a Great Year

Happy 2019!  I hope your 2018 was a good one. As is the case with all of us, there were ups and downs. That’s life, whether you are a Christian or not.

I’ve been blessed beyond my wildest dreams, and I ’ve said many times, I don’t believe in luck. I believe success is the result of hard work and perseverance. It helps to have some talent, too!  I worked hard as a teen, as my piano instruction lasted up through college. I practiced piano when other boys were out playing ball. I HATED practice but my teacher told me I had talent and my daddy made sure I practiced. This was before video games! I happened to be blessed to have the last name of Blackwood. My father and his brothers had become very successful and I benefited from their success. Had my last name been Smith or Jones, I would never have been offered the job with the Imperials.

On Friday, January 4, 2019, the Imperials will be featured with legendary guitarist and rock and roll Hall of Famer, James Burton, on the Mike Huckabee Show. I’m not sure when it will be aired so check with your local station for dates and times.  It’s shown all over the world on the TBN Network. James and I will be interviewed about our years with Elvis and we will sing our songs with James on guitar. We will be introducing our new tenor, Will Shaw. It will be his first appearance with us and we are excited about having his exceptional talent and dedication as an addition to our group.

The year 2019 will be challenging for us all. This world is a temptation for us as Christians but we don’t have to let it form us into its mold. We can be transformed by the renewing of our minds and the power of God’s Holy Spirit to become a light in this dark world. The darker it gets, the more the light of God’s love can make a huge difference in the lives of people who haven’t yet made that decision to follow Christ. I can’t make someone believe as I do, but I can tell them what God has done for me.  I’m not the harvester, just the seed planter. That decision is one with eternal significance and all other decisions pale in comparison to it.

Go out and make 2019 a great year!

December 27, 2018

2018: The Year in Review

The year 2018 is almost gone and a new year is fast approaching.  This year has brought both disappointments and encouraging developments. We started off the year with a month-long TCB tour with Dennis Jale as we visited many European countries.  The Imperials had our first appearance at GaitherFest in Gatlinburg, TN on Memorial weekend. Bill Gaither does this every May and we were honored to be there. He couldn’t have been nicer to us and has invited us back again this May for another weekend. I hope you can be there in 2019.  You can go to Gaither.com for any questions you might have. 

In August, we had two major events. We did a concert with our friends, the Stamps Quartet, across from Graceland. What a great crowd we had, and Donnie Sumner was his usual hilarious impromptu self. After Memphis, we drove back to Nashville and boarded a flight for Denmark. Our friend and promoter, Henrik Knudsen, had his first European Elvis festival and it was a smashing success. We will be back next year for another festival. 

In October we were invited to the TCB cruise from Barcelona, Spain with stops in Naples, Rome, and Florence, Italy, Cannes, France and a final stop in La Palma, Spain.

It was a celebration of 25 years of marriage with my wife, Tina, who deserves a medal for putting up with my schedule.  Also aboard that ship was Priscilla Presley, Jerry Schilling, James Burton, Ronnie and Donna Tutt, Glen Hardin and our host, Dennis Jale who did all the hard work to put this cruise together. We had concerts in Barcelona and then two shows with Dennis and one gospel show with the Imperials while aboard ship. 

In November we did a ten-day tour with Morgan Voein in Norway. The tour was a great success and we made many new friends. Our hope is that we will return sometime in the future for another tour. 

December found us back for our Christmas tour with Dennis Jale as we started out in Basel, Switzerland and ended up two weeks later back in Vienna, Austria for our ninth anniversary of Christmas shows with Dennis.

In 2019, we will begin the year with our new tenor, Will Shaw. He comes to us highly recommended and we are excited to see what doors God opens for us. We wish Royce great success as he pursues his own schedule with the Vogues, and solo concerts. 

Our very first event will be a TV show with Mike Huckabee on the TBN television network. James Burton will play guitar with us on our songs and he and I will be interviewed by Mike about our work with Elvis. We film it January 4 and I don’t know when it will air.  I hope you will be watching it. 

May it be your BEST year yet! 

December 21, 2018

Remember the Reason for the Season

I am back home from a two week Christmas tour of Switzerland and Austria. It was an amazing and fast-paced tour with receptive crowds everywhere. We wound up in two beautiful churches; one in Judenburg, Austria and the last one in a beautiful church in Vienna called Votiv Church. Vienna has a large cathedral in the center of the city called St. Stephens church that was built in the 1200s. It was semi-destroyed at one time and was rebuilt. Votiv Church is a smaller replica of that huge St. Stephens church. The unique thing about these churches is, the ceilings are so high, they can’t heat them! So at the church in Judenburg, we wore scarves and gloves while the audience wore their warm clothes as we sang. The Votiv Church in Vienna was even colder but they did provide a small heater on the stage so we didn’t freeze in place.  Would you believe the Votiv church on Saturday night was full and the temperature in that beautiful but cold sanctuary was below freezing? As we sang, I could see our breaths escaping from our mouths. That gave me the assurance I hadn’t frozen to death!

Sunday morning we left the hotel at 6 am for the Vienna airport and boarded the plane at 8:10 am and sat on that plane for one and a half hours waiting on the wings to be de-iced. I was ok with them taking as long as necessary to be sure we lifted off the ground. I even lifted my feet on takeoff to help the pilot. So, we took off around 10 am, bound for Frankfurt, Germany, where we transferred to our Lufthansa flight to Chicago on a 747 double-decker. I must say that was the most uncomfortable plane I’ve been on. The seats were too small and as tired as we were and as busy with up and down travelers going to the bathroom, sleep was impossible. We arrived in Chicago around 3 pm and because of the delays in Vienna, we missed our connection and were put on a later flight. By the time we arrived home, it was 9 pm Sunday night. We had been up for 36 hours!  

So now it’s Christmas time for us and we look forward to spending time with family. Merry Christmas to all of you and remember the reason for the season.

December 12, 2018

Christmas is the Most Wonderful Time

A little girl jumped up into Santa’s lap. Santa asked the usual question. “And what would you like for Christmas?”, asked Santa.  The child stared at him open mouthed and shocked for a minute, then gasped, “Didn’t you get my email?”


The store’s Santa Claus gave little Jeanie a candy cane. Her mother said, “What do you say, Jeanie?” Jeanie looked up at Santa and said, “Charge it!”

We are experiencing Christmas in Vienna, and it’s beautiful here. Our good friend, Dennis Jale has brought the Imperials here for nine years now for his Christmas shows. We started out in Zurich, Switzerland and now will end up here in Vienna Friday and Saturday at two Cathedrals. We sing our songs, back him on his Christmas songs and make new friends. The Austrian people are so welcoming to us “southern boys” who talk funny and can’t speak a word of German except Schnitzel. If it’s about food, we KNOW! I have learned to say, Danke, which means thank you, after I get the Schnitzel. We are staying at the wonderful Intercontinental Hotel and the hotel staff is so helpful. The breakfasts are the BEST. You can special order omelets or eggs any way you like them.

I was thinking last night as we finished the show, we sing Silent Night acapella to the audience and they, in turn, sing it back to us in German. What a beautiful way to end a Christmas show! I miss Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Oh Holy Night, Joy To the World, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, Oh Little Town of Bethlehem, and so many of the carols I sang in church many years ago. Don’t you? Silent Night, Holy night. All is calm, all is bright. Round yon virgin mother and child, holy infant so tender and mild. Sleep in heavenly peace. What a beautiful message of peace and goodwill in a chaotic world of fighting and arguing.


Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year when we renew our relationships with family whom we love so much, share time and love with them, and show our love by exchanging gifts. However, were it not for the gift of the Christ child, Christmas would not exist. He came into our world to make us part of His forever world. It’s wonderful to know that God loved us so much, He gave His only son to die for a lost world. The greatest gift ever given inspires us to give back what we have to Him who gave his all for us.

December 6, 2018

A Really Wise Man

Thoreau is quoted as saying, “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” I have paid a very high price for the amount of time and effort I have given to music and ministry. Sometimes I feel maybe I haven’t given enough, but other times I feel it’s cost me too much. I sit here in a hotel room in Vienna, Austria, away from my wife and my children and I hope and pray daily they are safe, happy, and provided for as I pursue this costly adventure I have chosen for my life. What about you? Do you feel your life matters to someone else? Are you in a job you hate, yet you have to feed your family, so you plod on in a dutiful way in a boring job that takes you nowhere? I am not saying you should quit. I am saying you should evaluate the cost of what you are doing against the benefits you are receiving. What is it you feel called to do?  Do you have a passion for something you never pursued, but had to settle for a lesser challenge because you had to feed your family? 

I was a reluctant warrior at the start. Graduation from college didn’t teach me anything but how to budget my time and maximize my efforts in preparation for life. I had prepared for music but had a back-up in business. While in that state of confusion, the Imperials called. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to leave the cocoon I had been in because I was comfortable there. However, there was an opportunity calling to make a real difference in the world, so I made the “exchange.” I traded the comfort of home for an unknown, uncertain world. I have had many ups and downs and made many mistakes, but I have never looked back in regret. Jim Elliot, the missionary who was murdered in South America as he tried to take the gospel to a primitive tribe, is quoted as saying, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep gaining what he cannot lose.” Jim Elliot paid the ultimate price to take the message of the gospel to people who never had heard. He was instrumental in that entire tribe coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Was it worth it? Some would say how foolish to die so young and miss out on raising a family with children and grandchildren to enjoy. I say Jim Elliot gave what he couldn’t keep gaining what he couldn’t lose; an eternal reward. This was a really wise man! 

November 29, 2018

The Fateful Decision to Leave Elvis

In the fall of 1971, the Imperials made the fateful decision to leave Elvis and concentrate on working more gospel concerts and touring with Jimmy Dean instead. Smart move, huh?  We left Elvis just months before the biggest tv show by far up to that time, Elvis, Aloha from Hawaii, in January of 1972. It was a live show by satellite to the world! That show was viewed by over one billion and a half people! Did you get to see it?  Sweet Spirit was introduced to that huge audience by the group that followed us, The Stamps Quartet. We had recorded the song in 1969 and had sung it for Elvis in his penthouse. However, we never got to do it on stage with his audience. That song has touched millions of people around the world and continues to do so. I remember singing it over 30 years later to an audience in Paris in around 2003. We were there singing with Frank Michael, a famous French singer in the world famous Olympia Theatre. Every night, for three weeks we sang that song and every night it touched that audience. The French are a very proud people and pride themselves on not speaking much English, but during that song, though they didn’t understand a word we were singing, there were tears in the eyes of many of the people. The spirit of God touched them in a profound way. They wouldn’t have gone to a church to hear a minister but they came to the Olympia Theatre in Paris to hear Frank Michael and the Imperials and they were deeply touched.

After leaving Elvis, we were still very busy with Jimmy Dean shows, Pat Boone and Carol Channing shows, and supplementing them with gospel concerts around the country. For me, a single guy, it didn’t matter how long I was gone. I was the only single guy in the group! There was no one to go home to except my parents, who still lived in Memphis. I was extremely close to them and honored them as best I could. My father had a huge impact on my life. My mother found no fault in me ever! I never bothered to tell her any different. I like to think that some of his blessings he received for being faithful were passed on to me. I passed them on to my children. There is something to this pronouncing blessing on your children as God takes delight in blessing faithful children. Are you blessed?  The prayer of Jabez applies: 1 Chron 4:10 “And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.” He’s just a prayer away!

November 16, 2018

Your Relationship With Christ

I am back home enjoying the peace and quiet of home. We’ve had one little change since I got back. I bought a nine week old Labradoodle puppy, and he’s turned our world around. I wasn’t sure we would even keep him as my daughter wasn’t on board with this and my middle son wasn’t either. I will say, after two days, I thought maybe I would sell him, as we leave for Florida vacation next Monday for a week and we can’t take him with us. Then, December 2, the Imperials fly to Switzerland to begin our Christmas tour. What to do with this sweet puppy?  I ran an ad on Craigslist and got one sweet lady who wanted him desperately. Now I’m not sure I have the heart to sell him. He’s brought such joy and life to our home. My wife, Tina, has been battling pneumonia and thrush for two weeks but has finally turned the corner, thanks to many prayers offered up for her and the medicine. I’ve never seen her this sick before. I’m thankful for doctors as they do marvelous work, but I’ve heard it said that doctors don’t heal; they just remove the impediments to God’s healing that always works. I believe that. All healing is God ordained and inspired. Doctors are a great help in that process, and for that I’m grateful.  I will keep you posted.

On a darker note, I was saddened by the loss of a friend who sang with me years ago in Andrus, Blackwood, and Co. David Hassell was a vital part of our group for two years, playing keyboards and singing harmonies. After he left us, he went to work for Lifeway, the Southern Baptist organization in Nashville and his creativity flourished there. Unfortunately, they cut back on personnel and he had to leave. Since then he’s taken several different jobs, got married and had two beautiful children, Mamie and Jude. He died of complications from breaking his ankle and from that, developed a blood clot that went to his heart and took his life last week. Please pray for his children. We know David is in heaven, as he worked his entire life to share the love of Christ with those around him. We will miss you, David, but God had different plans for you. Now you are enjoying the bliss of heaven and can be sure your two children are in the watchful eyes of our loving Father.

Life is unpredictable. You never know how long you have. Be sure you have your heart right with God and are ready for eternity should your time come. Your relationship with Christ is the only thing that really matters.