Published on May 17, 2017 by Ashley Smith
On June 30 at 7 p.m., Samford University’s Wright Center will host members of one of the royal families of gospel music, the Blackwoods. This special concert will honor the memory of R.W. Blackwood and Bill Lyles, who were killed in a plane crash near Clanton, Alabama, in 1954. Mark Blackwood and the Blackwood Quartet will perform. R.W.’s son, Ron, and Bill’s son, Bill Jr., will be in attendance.
Members of the Blackwood family will greet audience members after the concert.
Wright Center director Kenny Gannon commented on this interview that Bill Gaither did with James Blackwood some years after R.W. died.
“It's quite powerful,” Gannon said. “You will see that the wounds remained fresh all those many years later. In the moments and days after the crash, still reeling from the loss, he said that he would never sing again. You will hear in the interview how he changed his mind. Gospel music lovers like me are so glad he did. He credits the late Jake Hess with saving his life that day.”
The Statesmen and the Blackwood quartets were performing together and were all witnesses to the accident.
Wright Center is home to performances throughout the year, from the Alabama Symphony Orchestra to guest artists for all ages. The 2017–18 season will feature the Gaither Vocal Band, Three on a String, Ashley Campbell, Harry Potter with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Act of Congress, Sozo Children’s Choir and more. Tickets go on sale in July.
Ashley Smith is marketing and communication coordinator for Samford Arts.
Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 66th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 104th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,683 students from 47 states and 19 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.