Jackie Wilburn passes away
Jackie Wilburn passed away this morning at age 74. The patriarch of the Wilburn clan was vacationing with his family in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Funeral arrangements will be handled by Sanderson Funeral Home in Carthage, Tennessee.
Jackie married Elaine Wilburn in May 1959. By the mid-1970s, he became an ordained preacher. They also started touring and singing with their three sons as The Wilburns. The group launched to national prominence in the late 1980s, retiring in 2004. Though they would have several hit songs, including “Outside the Gate,” “When Dust Shall Sing,” and “Resting Place,” their largest legacy is in the careers they launched. When their son Jonathan moved from The Wilburns to Gold City, the rest was history, and Gold City was on its way (back) to the top.
But that was just the beginning. The list of prominent Wilburns alumni includes, in fact, most of their members: Tony Gore (Tony Gore & Majesty), Loren Harris (Perrys), Ricky Atkinson (songwriter / Ricky Atkinson & Compasson), Troy Peach (Steeles, First Love, Perrys), Michael Helwig (Dixie Echoes), and the list goes on. Rounding out that list are two members of the final (2004) Wilburns lineup, Gary Casto and Josh Singletary, who continue to perform together in their own group, Tribute Quartet.
Jackie Wilburn’s legacy continues today through his family: His son Jonathan and grandson Jordan Wilburn, the second and third generations of the Wilburn clan, recently launched the duo Wilburn & Wilburn, carrying the legacy forward.
Several weeks ago, in what may have been his final concert appearance, Jackie appeared with Elaine, Jonathan, Jordan, and Ricky Atkinson for a Wilburns Reunion concert. SGConcerts’ Diana Brantley was on the scene and posted several videos. Here’s an acappella song featuring Jackie, “The Old Story Will Never Grow Old”:
From the same evening, here are all five singing “Resting Place”:
For those new enough to the genre to not have grown up around Wilburns music, check out several more videos of the group in its prime: Coming Out of the Wilderness (1988, featuring a very young Jonathan Wilburn), When Dust Shall Sing (1992), Outside the Gate (1993).
As “When Dust Shall Sing” says:
Since Jesus died, the grave has lost its victory
And if you’re in Christ, death has lost its sting
You see, Christ conquered death, so He opened up the chorus
With voices raised, and shouts of praise, dust shall sing
When dust shall sing, on Resurrection morning…
This morning brought death, not resurrection. Yet this morning, in the presence of the King, dust is singing.
UPDATE: Here are some comments from Jonathan Wilburn about his father’s last day.