January 13, 2020

Attention Please. It’s 2020!

It’s January 2020! The new year has come with new challenges and new opportunities. The past year had many exciting days and disappointments as well. We were guest singers on the Mike Huckabee show on January 4 with our friend, James Burton. 

January 9-February 2 was our European tour with Dennis Jale. Dennis is always such a great host and the tour was awesome! 

On March 31, I was a guest for the Franklin Elvis Festival in Franklin, TN. I shared my gospel songs from the piano and the EAS Band from Chicago accompanied me. They are such fine musicians and genuinely good people who just want to make good music. It was a great weekend. 

On May 24 the Imperials traveled to Gatlinburg, TN for GaitherFest. We shared the stage with the finest singers/musicians you will ever hear. Bill Gaither always assembles the finest group of singers/speakers in the nation.  I was challenged by two great speakers that weekend to be the best I can be for the kingdom of God. 

We flew to Denmark on July 31 and were there for Henrik Knudsen’s Garden Party until Aug 5. On August 10, we flew to Wichita, KS, rented a car and drove to Arkansas, Kansas for a gospel concert. They pronounce it Arkansas and they will remind you of its correct pronunciation. I pronounced it like I thought it should be and I immediately got a response from the audience. After begging for mercy, they stopped throwing objects at us.  Seriously, they were very nice to us and the concert went without a problem.

We drove to Memphis on August 15 for the Elvis weekend. The big-screen show was on Friday and our gospel concert was on Saturday night. 

We helped our son, Jesse, move into his dorm on August 22. He is a freshman at Tennessee Tech U and has a roommate, Dale Fox, whose home is not more than 5 miles from ours.  

On October 12, Tina, Leah, and I drove to Murray, KY where we checked into the hotel for the night. Sunday morning early I sang special music for the First Baptist Church. I did a mid-afternoon concert at the church. Mostly seniors came but the response was gratifying. I shared my heart and my music. One elderly lady told Tina that she used to listen to Christian music but had put it aside. After the concert, she said to her that she has a renewed interest in listening again and she purchased several of CDs for her home. If you fill your house with Christian music, you will be encouraged in your walk with Christ. There are many to choose from. It doesn’t have to be mine. Just DO IT! That’s not an ad for Nike! You will be glad you did.

On November 13, the Imperials were a part of the James Burton Foundation concert at the Nashville Shermorhorn auditorium downtown. We shared the stage with Jason Scheff of Chicago who asked us to sing 25 or 6 or more, with Larry Stewart of Restless Heart, where we sang with him on one of his hits, I’ll Still Be Loving You, and also a Glen Campbell medley of Wichita Lineman and Gentle on My Mind. The last segment of the show was the Elvis segment and we sang The Wonder of You with James Burton and Ronnie Tutt. The finale was with all those who sang that night. Tanya Tucker came out and was featured on Burning Love. I have to say it was a night to remember. I am hopeful it will be a PBS special this year. 

Last month we flew to Austria for our Christmas shows with Dennis Jale. Tina was able to go this time. So we left home and spent two weeks in and around Vienna, Austria. Tina got to the shop and the group got to sing. We did a state-run TV show for the first time. On our last day there, we took a train to Salzburg and spent the day touring that beautiful city. We visited Mozart’s birthplace and toured the beautiful church that was used in The Sound of Music. We also toured Salzburg Fortress began in the 1200s.  Many pictures and memories were made. 

I pray 2020 is a great and glorious year for you. Many are hurting. Remember to be thankful for health and provision. As the song says, “Give thanks with a grateful heart”.  Happy New Year!

December 18, 2019

Time with Friends and Fans

It’s Thursday evening here in Vienna and I’m recollecting the amazing events of the almost two weeks in Austria. It’s been an exciting time for us as Tina came with me and got to shop and I got to sing! 

We’ve had many opportunities to spend time with friends and fans and to sing our gospel songs to many Austrians and Germans who came to Vienna to see the shows. One special friend came all the way from Paris. Genevieve is very supportive of our music and we always enjoy seeing her. Another friend came and sat on the front row, enjoying the music. She lives with a painful hip which will eventually have to be replaced but you would never know she’s in pain unless you ask her. God bless her and heal her of this debilitating malady. 

We’ve sung for Christmas parties, Lion’s Club dinners, as well as a few concerts. 

While here, we ran into Brian Sullivan, anchor and Senior National Correspondent for CNBC Business News. We were in the hotel and he found out we were there. He is a huge Elvis fan and knew of the Imperials. He was so very appreciative of meeting us. He knew we had sung with Elvis and just wanted to hear some Elvis stories. We took a picture with him and he invited us to tour CNBC if we ever came to NYC. He said he would be sure to tell his Dad he met me. His Dad is a huge Imperials fan. 

One highlight was the concert at the Minoriten Church in downtown Vienna. In the past, we’ve sung in huge cathedrals with high ceilings that couldn’t be heated. That was the case last year. I wore gloves onstage. This church has beautiful gothic architecture and was packed. We sang with only the piano and the acoustics were amazing! We learned Silent Night in German and the Austrian people loved our attempts at learning their language. Singing Sweet Spirit in that church without the microphones was a very special moment too.

Our host, Dennis Jale, secured an interview on an Austrian television show for us and him. The host interviewed us on my association with Elvis and our history of singing the gospel with Elvis in his penthouse. 

If I get over this cold, on Sunday, our last day here, Tina and I, Will and Shavona Shaw will take the train to Salzburg, Austria, for the day. 

So Monday morning early we board the plane for home. I must say the Austrian people are so warm and friendly. You can walk down the streets of Vienna at night and never fear for your safety. 

Thanks to Dennis Jale for always being such a great host and for Maren who always helps to work out the details for Dennis. 

November 8, 2019

James Burton Foundation Event

We just returned from a wonderful week in Panama City Beach, FL, where Tina, my wife, Leah, our daughter, and I spent some great times on the sunny beach of our condominium rental. Leah had combed the available units until we found one that looked good and priced right at the time we needed it. 

On Sunday, October 19 we loaded up the van and made the 7-hour drive to the beach. We had a lovely drive going down and no one got in our way! There were no freeway parking lots and no accidents along the way. Cars and trucks were actually passing me and I wasn’t going slowly. We arrived Sunday night, stopped off at the Fresh Market for eggs, bacon, and fruit, before heading to the condo. We arrived in loud oldies rock music from the beach. A band had set up their stage and the people were there enjoying the VERY LOUD music! I could have taken it more easily if it had been Elvis music. This week was also the annual biker’s convention so all up and down the front beach road there were thousands of Harleys and Yamahas of every shape and size. Have you ever been around a Harley? The DB level will part your hair! 

Every day was sunny so after breakfast, we made our way to the beach where we baked ourselves along with everyone else, before wading into the ocean waters and collecting shells. I noticed every step I took I made a good impression in the sand for about 15 seconds and after three of our four waves, my footprint was totally wiped out! It reminded me of the brevity of life and how important it is to make a lasting impression that can’t be washed away.

We saw sharks, stingrays, and seagulls all doing their thing. While down there, we celebrated my birthday and even had a friend of our friend, Kathy, who blew the Conch shell on the pier. It’s a sea shell that has been cut off to achieve that certain sound that only the Conch can produce. 

On Saturday afternoon, we were at early dinner sitting next to a table of Alabama Crimson Tide football ladies. During a lull in the action, one of the ladies looked at me and said, “Aren’t you Terry Blackwood”? I said yes, of course. She said, “I saw you two months ago during Elvis week in Memphis”!

Coming up on November 12th,  is a big James Burton Foundation event at the Schermerhorn Auditorium in downtown Nashville, TN.  Friends like Joe Walsh, Albert Lee, Jason Scheff, Jerry’s son, who sang in the great group, Chicago, Late Show bandleader, Paul Shaffer, the Imperials, John Carter Cash, and many more will take to the stage in this beautiful facility for a night of music. It should be a great event. Proceeds go to the James Burton Foundation, which gifts children and veterans from all over the nation with guitars. Hope to see you there!

October 23, 2019

Happy Birthday Terry

My birthday is today! We are celebrating tonight here in PCB Florida and I’m thankful for faith in God and family that loves and supports me. 
Last Sunday was a very special day for me. I had been invited to sing for a long-time friend, Mike Rose, Minister of Music at First Baptist Church, Murray KY. Tina and I and our daughter, Leah, arrived in Murray on Saturday night. The early service on Sunday started at 8:30 and I had to be there at 7:45 for soundcheck. The audience was mostly seniors because as you know, seniors get up early. They were there and I sang for them. Then, there was a more contemporary worship service at 11:00 for the young college students and younger couples. I sang and played a worship song I love, 10,000 Reasons. 

The afternoon concert started at 5 pm and I was ready! I had rehearsed my songs over and over that preceding week so I was prepared. I did new songs, old songs, and interspersed them with stories of my childhood, my college days, my experience of joining the Imperials, and my years with Elvis. The audience was very receptive. Mike had said the church doesn’t usually have an evening worship service so he was pleased with the crowd. 

I had no idea what I was going to say but I had prayed and asked God for help and He came through once again. We ended the concert with How Great Thou Art with the entire church body singing along with me as I played and sang it from the piano. 

Mike told me on Thursday after the Wednesday night service that he had so many “thank you’s” from members who told him how appreciative they were of my visit. One older lady asked him to ask me if I would send every cd I had so she could listen and pick out the ones she wanted to keep. She said my music had inspired her dormant musical past and rekindled her love for good Christian music. 

I can’t explain the feelings I had after Mike called. I have a renewed interest in pursuing my calling and singing to God’s people. I am also called to sing to the wonderful people in Europe who have the Imperials at least three or four times a year. 

The message I left with that crowd Sunday night was, “bloom where you are planted. Go through doors God opens. You never know what God will do with a willing servant.

September 5, 2019

Elvis Week

Elvis week is now in the history books. There were many highlights and the fans were there from all over the world. There were ETA’s galore, and many celebrities who performed. Some of the note, BJ Thomas, Ronnie Milsap, the Holladay Sisters, and the Memphis Boys, Bobby Wood and Gene Chrisman who were on the famous Memphis sessions that produced Suspicious Minds, Don’t Cry Daddy, In the Ghetto, and Kentucky Rain, to name a few. There was James Burton, Ronnie Tutt, and Glen D. Hardin of the TCB band, Estelle Brown of the Sweet Inspirations, Andy Childs, who produced the big screen show and emceed many events of the week, and Terry Mike Jeffries, a multi-talented artist who has been singing for Elvis fans for many years. A surprise guest we got to meet in the lobby, Jose Feliciano, (Feliz Navidad) sat for a picture with us. 

The big event on Friday night featured all the original cast members from the 1969 opening at the Las Vegas Hilton International Hotel. Interviewees included James Burton, Ronnie Tutt, Glen Hardin, Jim Murray and me from the Imperials, and Estelle Brown of the Sweet Inspirations.  

Saturday morning I was interviewed with Jim Murray about our times with Elvis and we shared some insight into our life with the king of rock and roll.  

Our big event was Saturday night, Gospel night, with the Blackwood Brothers Qt and the Imperials. Larry Strickland and Ed Hill from the Stamps were there to sing with both groups some gospel songs we love and Elvis loved. We capped off the night with the audience singing How Great Thou Art and Amazing Grace along with us. 

It was an amazing week for Elvis fans and it’s our hope that they took home with them some memories that won’t fade away over time. Rock and roll is fun music and we enjoy singing it but the high it gives you is temporary. Gospel music feeds your soul and can change your life forever if you let it. To many, it makes them feel good. To others and to us, it’s music that has eternal value. As the last verse of Amazing Grace says; “When we’ve been there 10,000 years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no fewer days to sing God’s praise than when we’ve first begun”!

August 28, 2019

Mother Teresa

My sister, Kaye and I had been invited as special guests to a Christmas celebration in Calcutta, India and as we approached the city I knew this was going to be a memorable two weeks. As we descended I noticed a dark haze at about 5000 ft or less. It looked like fog but it wasn’t. I learned later it was the smoke from the constant burning of cow dung over the years. In Hinduism, cows are thought to be sacred or deeply respected. Since money was scarce in Calcutta, they couldn’t afford to burn wood. We landed and were met by our missionary friend, Dr. Mark Buntain, and were escorted to our hotel. We were told not to drink the water and be careful about what we ate. I’ve never seen such poverty as was in Calcutta. There were beggars everywhere and people lived, ate, and went to the bathroom on the street. It was a shock to my system and I’ll never forget what I saw. As bad as the city was, when we got to the church, there were happy faces everywhere. They sang loudly, Dr. Buntain preached with much fervor, and they loved their life in Calcutta. These people didn’t have much but what they had was enough because they knew Jesus. 

We had a few days to get acclimated to the city before the concert series began. We were to be an extension of the outreach of the church to the Hindu officials who didn’t know Christ but came out to celebrate our Christmas concert with us. The week of concerts went very well and every night we sang to a packed audience of locals. After the week was up, we had a day to walk around town. We came upon a huge warehouse, walked inside and were shocked to see row upon row of cots for people who had been picked up from the streets and attempts were made to nurse them back to health. Many babies were there; some were surviving while others didn’t make it. Kaye held one tiny baby in her hand and that baby didn’t make it. It was heart wrenching and sobering.  The person in charge of these caregivers was a lady by the name of Mother Teresa. Her ministry had touched the lives of many in that town. As we left, we asked one of the nuns where Mother Teresa lived. She gave us the address nearby so we thought we would go by and just ask if she was there. When we arrived at her humble home, we knocked and someone came to the door. We asked if Mother Teresa was there. To our shock, they said yes. We asked if we could meet her. Not 5 minutes later, she walked out of the front door. She didn’t speak English but greeted us warmly. Someone just happened to have a camera and took the picture we will cherish for a lifetime. 

God works in mysterious ways and guides us daily if we ask. This day was a day we would never forget!

April 5, 2019

The Nashville Elvis Festival is now history.

I didn’t know what to expect as I had never been there before. Tom Brown invited me to be there and I came on stage at 10 am Sunday morning just after Gary Chapman sang. He sang beautifully three gospel songs that were meaningful for him. Since I had never sung for this event, I was apprehensive and didn’t know what to expect. The audience was wonderful! I opened my set with I’ve Got Confidence, a song the Imperials had cut in 1970 and one that Elvis liked and recorded with us on his He Touched Me lp. As you can tell by the photo, I played for myself but the EAS Band from Chicago volunteered to accompany me. Although we never rehearsed, I was pleased and thankful for their help. I welcomed myself and the audience to the event. I told them, there were three male gospel groups who sang behind Elvis during his short career. The first group, The Jordanaires, then the Imperials, and lastly, The Stamps made that list. That meant about 15 male backup singers had the privilege of being on stage with him. I said I was pretty sure I wasn’t Elvis’ favorite back-up singer, (three other men claimed that title), but I’m quite sure I was in the top 15!

It was a fun morning sharing the stage with Gary Chapman, Tom Brown, and six ETA’s who sang gospel for an hour after my appearance on stage. They were all excellent. Of particular note was Dean Z, Diogo Light, and 16 yr old, Riley Jenkins, all of whom were very respectful and kind. They were all very good singers. The crowd loved the show and I was up there singing along with them all the songs I learned as a kid. My wife, Tina, and daughter, Leah, were at the table in the back where we sold a product. I talked to one lady who said she was really encouraged by what I had to say before I sang “Where No One Stands Alone”. The writer, Mosie Lister, also wrote His Hand In Mine, the title song from Elvis’ second gospel lp. We are never alone when we pray and ask God for guidance and wisdom. He said He would give that to us.

We are here for a brief time and we must make every minute count. Don’t waste it watching inane tv shows that offer no answers, only confusion. PLEASE turn off The VIEW!!!!!  Instead, go to that bible and read Psalms and Proverbs for REAL wisdom, eternal truths that have transcended nations and continues to provide answers to all of life’s questions.

March 28, 2019

This is an exciting week for me

My main focus is on Sunday, March 31, where I will be involved in the Elvis Festival in Franklin, TN. The festival starts on Friday and I won’t be there until Sunday morning at 10 am. The people will have heard two days and night of Elvis tribute artists and then I will be coming on stage. I have skinny short blond sideburns, blond hair, blue eyes, and led a very strict, sheltered life. I don’t look or sound like Elvis but I do have a focus and a message for those Elvis fans. I want them to understand why Elvis chose the Imperials. Yes, Elvis picked us in 1969 but God directed him to that choice. I’m still singing because of that open door that God opened for me through Elvis. My gospel songs will hopefully give hope and encouragement to them.

Just yesterday I witnessed the two and a half hour funeral service for Dave Kyllonen, emcee and baritone/bass for the dynamic Couriers from PA.  What a wonderful service, filled with testimonies from his four daughters, his son, his wife, and many of his former pastors. After the Couriers disbanded, Dave went on the mission field and continued to minister to people around the world. He had this deep, rich commanding voice and he spoke with such eloquence. I wished I could be that good. His close friendship with his family spoke volumes to me. Many families are broken, at odds with each other, have money issues, jealous, and envious of one who might get a little more success than they. This man’s life was such a bold witness and encouragement of what we should all aspire to be.

Sunday morning I will be on that stage before Elvis fans mostly. I will have some who came to see and hear me. I just want my appearance to be one they will remember; one that gives them more than music. It’s not about me anyway. I’m just the vessel I hope God uses. Thanks for your prayers. I will report back to you next week on the results.

Have a blessed week and remember you have a destiny that only YOU can fulfill. God is with you and a host of heavenly saints who’ve gone before are cheering you on toward the finish line. Finish strong!

March 22, 2019

Silence!

I don’t like silence, especially when you’re with someone. It’s awkward, isn’t it?  You feel like you need to say something clever or just anything to break the silence. Sometimes, my mouth jumps ahead of my brain and I say something stupid that I wish I hadn’t said. Is that you?  Are you uncomfortable with silence? It’s the antithesis of what God wants for us. He said, “Be still and know that I am God”. If you’re busy or you’re talking, you can’t be still and know. I want to work on being still. God never yells at us; He speaks in a still, small voice and we must be quiet to hear Him.

I happened to be in the bank yesterday and was there with my son, Jesse, who was celebrating his 19th birthday. There happened to be a sweet elderly lady sitting in the chair next to me. She smiled and we made light pleasant talk. She seemed fine. When the officer of the bank came up to her to talk to her, she broke down crying. She has so many physical problems from arthritis to cracked ribs and she was in constant pain. I didn’t even know as I spoke with her and listened to her talk. My heart went out to her and I told her as she was leaving that I would pray for her. She needs God’s touch in her life and I happened to be there at God’s appointed time. Our meeting was no accident. Our time together was pre-ordained.

Just this morning, I went to the gym to work out on the treadmill and do my physical activity for the day. No one was in there so I turned on CBN around 9 am and Pat Robertson was on there. I was watching as I was walking the treadmill and another gentleman came in and walked on the treadmill next to mine. He watched intently the gospel being presented right there in the gym. I didn’t say anything but just did my workout. He went to the other room 30 minutes later and worked the machines. I wonder if he took note of what he was seeing on TV? I can only do what I think is right for me. I won’t push my faith on anyone but I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation!

Be blessed today and just be silent at times and listen for God speaking to you. That sound like a good title for the song the Imperials cut many years ago. God Speaking To You. Great song! He’s all around us, He’s in us, and He works through us if we let Him.  

February 28, 2019

Home at Last!

Thank God we made it home safely. There were no missed flights, no turbulence, no unruly passengers next to us, and we got home with all our stuff! You know we all need our stuff. I came home with all the stuff  I started with and included boxes of candy I purchased in Bonn, Germany for Tina. She likes dark chocolate. Don’t ask me why. I just buy! German, Austrian, and Swiss chocolate, they’re all good and better than Hershey’s. Yes, it’s more expensive but I can’t come home empty-handed, can I?  Tina has been home with three teens for three and a half weeks and she deserves a medal. Medals are much heavier than chocolate and so I chose the latter. She was happy with my choice.

So I come home to three weeks of delayed chores and tasks that have been put off until my return. Life goes on whether I’m there or not. Bills have to be paid and I need to get caught up. The most pressing issues have to be addressed first. Then I work through the other issues later.

Travel is hard. Singing is the easy part. When you’re in a long line at the airport, waiting to get your bags searched and you have to rush to your gate to catch a flight to another city, it’s stressful. Once we are at the auditorium, it’s much easier. We always start the show and this time we came up with two new songs I hadn’t sung for many years. We opened with Spread a Little Love Around/God’s Mighty Peace, a medley we had recorded on an Imperial’s release called  Follow the Man with the Music, recorded in 1974. It was nominated for a Grammy and contains many great songs. The second song we sang was I’m Gonna Rise, a song we recorded as Andrus, Blackwood, and Company on the very first release we called Grand Opening. Sherman Andrus and I both left the Imperials in 1976 and a year later, we were asked to do an album together. This song was the first single on the first of many releases to come. It charted very high on the CCM radio stations. Both songs are available on my website at terryblackwood.com.

I know I’ve been called to sing and that involves travel. I wish I could get the people to come to my house and I could sing for them there, but that doesn’t seem to be very practical. My house is hard to find and really I don’t want to be “found.” My home is sort of a refuge for me and we all need a little privacy from time to time.

Have a blessed week. God is still on the throne and He knows what He’s doing. Rest in that assurance.