In the Spring of 1976

In the spring of 1976, I was nominated for the Dove Award for Best Male Vocalist. I was pitted in the same category as my uncle, James, who had won it several times previously. The Imperials had released another lp entitled Just Because and it was nominated for a Dove award as well. All was going so well and yet I was ready to leave. I had no plans but just that unsettled feeling that God was telling me to leave. So in the midst of such great success and throwing common sense out the window, I gave my notice to the group and in May of 1976, I left. Since I didn’t plan on joining another group, I needed a little time to adjust. I had always wanted to do an lp with my sister, Kaye, and now seemed like a good time to do that. I contacted Tony Brown, the producer of some really big country acts at a later date in his career. He had played piano for Elvis after we had left. We had roomed together when I first came to Nashville in 1967 and he said he would love to produce it. 

Kaye and I released our one and only lp we titled, Keep Holding On, in memory of our daddy, Doyle J. Blackwood, and a cd that I still sell on my web site at Dates at churches were beginning to come in and the lp was getting some good airplay. The Moody radio station in Chicago played His Hand in Mine from that lp several times a day for months! Other noteworthy songs on that cd are, Rise and Be Healed, When God Dips His Love, More Than You’ll Ever Know, Gentle Shepherd, and an acapella song called I Sing of Thee. This cd was totally different from anything I had done with the Imperials but it was time for it. I went from huge venues with the Imperials to small churches overnight.  I was beginning to think I had made a mistake and had acted impulsively. Not too long after the lp was released, we were invited to sing at the national Assemblies of God convention in Oklahoma City, Ok and we accepted. After we sang, a missionary to India by the name of Mark Buntain approached us and said, “You must come to Calcutta”! I was taken aback by that request. He said just raise the money for your flights and be there for their Christmas outreach to the Hindu population that controlled the city. It was a two-week stay with a week of concerts of Christmas music and a week to explore the city. I promised him if we can get the financial support, we will come. I didn’t think we would go, but I announced the offer we had received at the close of the concert in the first church we sang in after that convention and to my utter surprise, a couple came up after the service and said, “We will sponsor your trip and pay for your flights” ! I was shocked and yet amazed at how quickly God worked. Be careful what you promise. You might have to deliver. 

The first of December, 1976, we boarded a flight from Memphis to Calcutta, India. It was to be a trip I will never forget!