He began his recording and radio performance career in the 1930s. He joined the Billy Graham crusade team in 1947, and would remain associated with Graham and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association for the next fifty-five years. Through his singing career, it is estimated that he sang to more than 220 million people live and in person. He has held the Guinness Book of World Records title for performing to more people live than any other person.
His impact on Southern Gospel is extensive; among other things, he co-wrote “I’d Rather Have Jesus” and popularized both “How Great Thou Art” and “To God Be the Glory.”
Two years ago, I attended a Gaither Homecoming taping. Shea was there, and, at 102, he got the strongest response of the night.
UPDATE, 4/17/13, 8:45 PM: Shea’s funeral will be this Sunday at 3 P.M. at Anderson Auditorium in Montreat, North Carolina. It will be open to the public.Read More