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!

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!

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.

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.