Eva Mae LeFevre passes away

Yesterday morning (May 18, 2009), Southern Gospel legend Eva Mae LeFevre passed away at age 91. Her website has this announcement:

Eva Mae LeFevre passed away at 7:25 a.m. on Monday, May 18, 2009, at age 91. She had been hospitalized in April for pneumonia at which time doctors also discovered a fractured hip. …

Known as the First Lady of Gospel Music, Eva Mae LeFevre became the first living woman to be inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1978. Ten years later, she was the first gospel music inductee into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. Eva Mae first began singing and playing the piano as a young child at her father’s church in South Carolina. In 1934, she married Urias LeFevre and began a 40 year journey leading The Lefevres, which became one of the most beloved groups in gospel music history. Eva Mae’s trademark alto voice and piano artistry became a defining influence for the LeFevres. The group became staples on WGST radio, based out of their hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. They later pioneered a gospel music television program, The Gospel Singing Caravan, while touring as many as 100,000 miles a year across North America.

After attempting to retire years ago, Eva Mae could never walk away from her love for gospel music. She continued to delight audiences across North America throughout her twilight years, both through Gaither Homecoming appearances and solo concerts. Today, she has joined her husband in eternity. Her spirit, her dignity, that flawless alto voice and contagious laugh, her quick sense of humor and unshakable faith in Christ was an inspiration to us all. She will be sorely missed.

One thing the press release didn’t cover was her role in starting the Homecomings off; she was the one Bill Gaither called to the piano for the spontaneous sing-a-long that ended up becoming the first Gaither Homecoming video.

She was one of a very few people in any genre to stay on the road performing for seventy years, and was one of the last if not the last surviving members of a well-known 1930s pre-WWII Southern Gospel group.

Funeral arrangements are on her website.


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7 Letters to the Editor

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  1. I have lost another hero. Eva Mae influenced my piano playing…and that of COUNTLESS other folks…as much as anyone who ever lived. Her open-handed style is still being imitated today. I loved her dearly, and remember well her glory days. When she played “Keep on the Firing Line”, you could almost see the smoke come out of the piano. This precious one is now at Home with her son, Pierce, who died young in a plane crash, with Urias and Alphus, her parents, and all the others who preceded her…and, most of all, the Lord Jesus. I used to love to hear her sing “When I Make My Last Move”. Well, sweet Eva Mae…you’ve made it. What a legacy she left behind. My deepest sympathies to her family and friends and all the fans who will miss her. Dianne.

  2. Isn’t Mike LeFevre her son or grandson?

  3. Mike is Eva Mae’s nephew. I know she had to be pleased when he started a group of his own and started singing again.

    I’ll miss seeing Miss Eva Mae unexpectedly at local concerts and at Gaither Homecomings and I will sure miss her sweet smile.

    • Eva mae touched many in Kenya. I will miss her grately. Its soo sad that she died the same year with my dad who loved her singing. Rest in peace Eva and my dad

  4. The last time I saw Eva was at NQC the year Mike LeFevre Quartet won Horizon Group. She was so happy for them that evening.

    I, too, remember her infectious laugh, her sweet smile, and the way she could forevermore play that piano. Few people have that style today–Rosa Nell Speer Powell, Gerald Wolfe, Stan Whitmire, and the Hayes Family girls come the closest. Some of my fondest memories as a very young girl are of seeing the Lefevres and being mezmerized by Eva Mae.

    If there ever was a true pioneer and legend, it was Eva Mae.

  5. It’s good to know that she is in a better place. God blessed her with a long life. It’s good to see people like Mike carrying on her legacy.

  6. We will sorely miss this grand old dame, we got to know her thru the Gaither videos, and got to love her.

    Peter and Bess

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