The Blackwood Brothers Quartet enjoyed much success in MS after their initial foray into radio. Their popularity soared locally in the area around their first radio show situated in Kosciusko, MS. I have to tell one story that started it all for this amazing quartet. They were raised dirt poor as share-croppers. That term meant the family worked the land, tilled the soil and raised the crops to share with the owner of the land. For their toil and labor, they were given some of the produce the land produced. It could have been cotton at the time as that commodity enjoyed much popularity as a crop that could be turned into apparel. It was hard work and no one who has ever picked cotton for a living would EVER go back to that back-breaking work. During this time in MS, times were hard and people were barely making it. The Blackwood’s were an example of just how hard it was at that time.
The story goes that there was a local singing school advertising about a week long singing school that was to be conducted in a local church near Ackerman, MS. Mr. Vardeman Ray was to lead the school for any and all locals who wanted to attend. The Blackwood’s mother, Carrie, knew her two boys, Doyle and James, wanted desperately to go to this school but the family didn’t have the money to attend the school. It was a week long nightly school and it cost 25 cents to attend. Because the fee to attend was unreachable for the family, the two boy’s mother did the only thing she knew she could do. They had one prize hen that was a great layer for the family. She sold that hen, and the money she received paid for the school for her two boys to attend.
It was at school they were first heard by Mr Ray. He asked them to join his quartet and they sang with him first. So the very first time the Blackwood boys ever sang together was my father, Doyle, and James, his younger brother. Their work with Mr. Ray gave them the experience they needed to branch out as a duo later where they incorporated a little comedy and small skits in between songs to make their program enjoyable to their audiences. They were gaining such a following, their older brother, Roy, who had already married and was pastoring a church in Alabama, had been blessed with a son, RW, they called him, and the family moved back to MS to join my father and James in the original quartet known as the Blackwood Brothers Quartet. So there were three brothers, with 20 years difference in their ages and the oldest brother’s son who made up the group. My father was the original emcee and he used to introduce them as the only quartet they would ever see that had three brothers, two uncles, two nephews, a father and a son!
In these weeks of natural disasters and so many people facing difficulties, now more than ever is the time to be on our knees for our country.