Charlie Burke passes away

Charlie Burke passed away this morning in Winston-Salem North Carolina, after suffering a likely brain aneurysm last night.

For several decades, Burke was a behind-the-scenes member of the Southern Gospel industry, through owning the Singing Americans, owning Tape Corporation of America (with his son, Michael Burke), and as a co-owner and board member of the National Quartet Convention. Under his leadership, the Singing Americans brought singers like Danny Funderburk, Ivan Parker, Clayton Inman, Rick Strickland, and Michael English to the forefront of Southern Gospel music. He also helped launch the Whisnants, the Reggie Sadler Family, and the Dove Brothers.

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21 Letters to the Editor

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  1. Thanks. Long history there.

    • I know—it almost feels like reducing it to a paragraph makes it seem less than it is and deserves to be.

      • Being a behind-the-scenes guy, he sure did a lot in his lifetime to advance the SGM industry!

  2. Was he also not the father of Singing Americans bass Dwayne Burke? Or am I wrong on that?

    • He was.

  3. This is a shock. What a nice man. Gave so much to our music.

    • Thanks for confirming that; I hadn’t heard of any illness and was thinking this was sudden.

      • Mr. Burke’s passing was quite sudden. From what information I’ve gotten, he suffered a brain anuerism last night at his home in Maiden, NC and passed away this morning.

        He was a giant in gospel music and will be missed…he was friend to me in this business when some people wouldn’t give me the time of day, and during my time singing with Naomi Sego, he was instrumental in helping her get a bus. I also knew him from the funeral business. I went to school to be a licensed funeral director and embalmer and he owned Burke Mortuaries in Maiden and Newton, NC.

        He will be very much missed in the gospel music world.

      • Interesting. I am Funeral Director/Embalmer as well. I didn’t know that he also was in that line of work.

      • There have been a long tradition of Funeral Directors and embalmers in our genre. I know the Greenes were, but I hesitate to start naming a list for fear I’d forget the obvious.

      • Obvious like who? 😉

      • To someone who’s paid more attention to that detail over the years than I have.

  4. I only had the chance to talk with Mr. Burke once. I called for some Singing Americans tapes and we had a nice chat about some of the recordings, some I had, and his attempts to get the masters for the Riversong stuff and what he considered the unreasonable amount of money Benson (or whoever) wanted for them.

  5. This is a huge loss for “our Music”! I have loved and respected Charlie for many years! It was such an honor to have the chance to visit with him at the Grand Ole Gospel Reunion and the NQC this year, and it was an extra bonus to be able to hear that big rich baritone voice at the GOGR with his new Quartet The Master’s Music Men with Phil Barker. (Their recording is now even more of a treasure!) Charlie was truly one of the “unsung” heroes in this Music that I so love. Most people would simply be amazed by story after story of those he has helped over many years. Also he could evermore tell an old Quartet story! ! I am praying daily for his precious family, many friends, and the Industry. Thank you Charlie Burke!

    • Charlie told me he also sang with the Pine Ridge Boys many years ago. He may been one of the founders of that quartet. They are still singing on a limited basis as far as I know. BTW, there are a couple of interesting family connections steming from the Pine Ridge Boys. Chip Cooper is the son of Miles Cooper and Larry Stewart (Singing Americans bass) is the son of Jim Stewart.

      • Larry Stewart also sang with the Anchormen, joining them sometime in 1990, about the same time David Sutton did.

  6. Anyone know what Dwayne (his son) is doing now? I saw him a few years ago running the sound at NQC for a showcase.

    • Not sure, but I read somewhere that he was involved in a church position. I really enjoyed his voice with the Singing Americans. He lacked the depth of the typical quartet bass, but he had a beautiful tone, and feeling to his voice that more than made up for it.

  7. I live in Lindale Texas and go to New Harmony Church. Our youth director is John Harris who is the son of Joel Harris who played the piano for the Singing Americans back in ’72 & ’73. How would I get videos of the Singing Americans for those dates? I remember well being at Tres Rios in Glen Rose Texas and listening to the Singing Americans who had stopped there on their way to Nashville. What a time we had. We really had a wonderful time. A worship service and then they moved on and that year they won the #1 singing group. Either ’83 or ’84