JD Sumner Exhibition

The Elvis Unlimited museum will host a special exhibit remembering gospel legend, JD Sumner on December 14, 2008. It has been ten years since JD Sumner passed away while touring on November 16, 1998. Now for the first time ever, JD will be remembered with a very special tribute.

The Elvis Unlimited Museum will have an exclusive exhibit of JD Sumner's stage worn wardrobe, personal items, and many other items from the singer's estate. Tributes and special memories will also be exclusively on display at the museum from fellow musicians and friends of JD including former members of The Stamps Quartet, The Jordanaires, The TCB Band, and countless others.

' I have been a gospel fan all of my life. And without a doubt, J.D. is a true legend. His career spans more than 50 years. I had J.D. Sumner and The Stamps in Denmark in 1997, for a totally sold out show. We sold tickets as far away as France, England, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Finland. There was a never ending interest. The media was there and each and every one was just so excited that we had J.D. over for one of his seldom shows outside U.S.A. I've meet with J.D. Sumner a lot of times in the US, but it was special to have him, one on one, in Denmark. J.D. asked Patsy Andersen at Elvis Presley Enterprises about 'this kid' from Denmark, is he ok? Well, he showed up, didn't he? Anyway, in my guestbook, J.D. called me his friend and I'll always treasure that. A little over a year later, J.D. passed away. This exhibition is to honor a gentleman, a pioneer, a legend and most of all a friend!" says Henrik Knudsen, owner of the Elvis Unlimited Museum.

John Daniel Sumner was born on November 19, 1924 and passed away on November 16, 1998. He was born in Lakeland, Florida. JD was inspired to become a bass singer at the young age of four when he heard Frank Stamps perform. He is a World War II veteran. After his return from the service, he formed the Sunny South Quartet. Soon after, he joined the Sunshine Boys. It was then that he made a name for himself.

In 1954, JD was asked by James Blackwood to replace Bill Lyles. R.W. Blackwood and Bill Lyles died in a plane crash. JD became famous fast with the Blackwood Brothers. His relationship with James Blackwood also took off. They formed the National Quartet Convention together in 1956. Still today, it is the largest gospel music event. They also formed the Gospel Music Association which recognizes achievements made in gospel music through the Dove Awards.

In 1963, they purchased the Stamps Quartet. This was quite an accomplishment for JD who was inspired by Frank Stamps as a boy. JD soon left the Blackwood Brothers to sing and manage the Stamps. During this time, he decided that each singer in the quartet should have a microphone of their own. The group soon became known as JD Sumner and the Stamps.

In November of 1971, JD and the Stamps began to tour with Elvis. The group remained with Elvis until his last concert on June 26th, 1977. The Stamps were also featured on most of Elvis' studio recordings between 1972 and 1977. In the midst of their popularity while performing with Elvis, the Stamps released what is probably their most critically acclaimed recording, a double LP titled Live At Murray State. The singers joining J. D. Sumner on that recording were Ed Hill, Ed Enoch, and Bill Baize.

In 1980, JD disbanded the Stamps. He joined Jake Hess, Hovie Lister, Rosie Rozell, and James Blackwood to form the Masters V. The Guinness Book Of World Records recognized Sumner's 1966 solo recording of the hymn "Blessed Assurance" in 1983. According to Guinness, the song contained the lowest recorded note ever produced by a human voice, a "double low" C. The recording was re-issued in 1984 as part of Sumner's solo project Thank God For Kids and again in 1999 posthumously on The Wait Is Over. After the Masters V disbanded in 1988, J. D. Sumner brought back the Stamps with former member Ed Hill, Jack Toney, and former Masters V tenor and arranger Steve Warren. In the early 1990s, the Stamps were active participants in the Gaither Homecoming videos. They also enjoyed a great deal of success performing at Elvis Presley tribute events, both domestically and overseas. In addition to Ed Hill, Ed Enoch, Rick Strickland, Jerry Kelso and CJ Almgren were members of the group during Sumner's final years. J. D. Sumner died in 1998 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He was on tour at the time of his death. In addition to his other accomplishments, he wrote more than 700 songs. He has also inspired many generations of future southern gospel singers, including the up-and-coming bass singer, Garrett Mathison.

"It's really hard to pick one person out of all the people working with Elvis, and say he or she is your favorite. But on the top of my list is J.D. Sumner. As you all know, I worked with them all more or less. And they are all very special people to me." says Knudsen

Elvis was a big fan of J.D. Even before Elvis really kicked off his career, the two met. J.D. would let Elvis in backstage because Elvis had no money for a ticket. This according to Jack Soden, CEO of Graceland. The last record Elvis ever listened to was a J.D. Sumner and The Stamps record. They had a special bond some how.

The exhibition is for one day only. Sunday December 14th, 2008. From 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM. After this, it will be securely packed and stored. And then some pieces will be displayed at Graceland Randers which opens in 2010.

Source: Elvis Unlimited / Updated: Dec 4, 2008 
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