Gospel singer, Graham confidant George Beverly Shea dies at 104
George Beverly Shea (left) with his close friend, Billy Graham (right).
April 17th, 2013
11:45 AM ET

Gospel singer, Graham confidant George Beverly Shea dies at 104

By Dan Merica, CNN
[twitter-follow screen_name='DanMericaCNN']

(CNN) - George Beverly Shea, a noted gospel singer and close confidant to evangelical leader Billy Graham, died Tuesday evening after "a brief illness," according to the Billy Graham Evangelical Association. He was 104.

Shea had been hospitalized after a stroke, association spokesman Brent Rinehart said.

In honoring Shea's death, the evangelical organization noted that the singer had "carried the Gospel in song to every continent and every state in the Union."

"I first met Bev Shea while in Chicago when he was on Moody Radio," Graham said in a statement. "As a young man starting my ministry, I asked Bev if he would join me. He said yes and for over 60 years we had the privilege of ministering together across the country and around the world."

He continued, "Bev was one of the most humble, gracious men I have ever known and one of my closest friends. I loved him as a brother."

iReport: Remembering George Beverly Shea

Reaction to Shea's death lit up Twitter, with fans across the country remembering "a remarkable man" who led a life of "great significance."


Shea recorded more than 70 sacred music albums, according to the Billy Graham Evangelical Association. The work earned him a Grammy in 1965 - for his "Southland Favorites" album - and nine other nominations from the prestigious organization.

Additionally, the Grammy organization honored Shea with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011.

"Even though Bev was 10 years older than my father, he never acted his age," Graham said. "He was absolute fun to be with. Bev was one of the most gracious and unassuming men I have known. He was always encouraging and supportive, a man of deep faith and strong commitment to Jesus Christ."

Shea, born in Winchester, Ontario, on February 1, 1909, was the son of a Methodist minister. His father taught him the violin, and his mother taught him the piano and organ. He started singing in the choir of his father's church.

Shea is survived by his wife, Karlene, and two children from his first marriage, Ronald and Elaine, according to the Billy Graham Evangelical Association.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Belief • Billy Graham • Christianity

soundoff (325 Responses)
  1. Universe

    Mary in Quran (Islamic Scripture)

    “Mention in the scripture Mary. She isolated herself from her family, into an eastern location.” [19:16]

    “While a barrier separated her from them, we sent to her our Spirit. He went to her in the form of a human being.”

    She said, "I seek refuge in the Most Gracious, that you may be righteous."

    He said, "I am the messenger of your Lord, to grant you a pure son."

    She said, "How can I have a son, when no man has touched me; I have never been unchaste."

    He said, "Thus said your Lord, `It is easy for Me. We will render him a sign for the people, and mercy from us. This is a predestined matter.' "

    When she bore him, she isolated herself to a faraway place.

    The birth process came to her by the trunk of a palm tree. She said, "(I am so ashamed;) I wish I were dead before this happened, and completely forgotten."

    (The infant) called her from beneath her, saying, "Do not grieve. Your Lord has provided you with a stream.

    "If you shake the trunk of this palm tree, it will drop ripe dates for you.*

    "Eat and drink, and be happy. When you see anyone, say, `I have made a vow of silence, [to the Most Gracious]*; I am not talking today to anyone.' "

    She came to her family, carrying him. They said, "O Mary, you have committed something that is totally unexpected.

    "O descendant of Aaron, your father was not a bad man, nor was your mother unchaste."

    She pointed to him. They said, "How can we talk with an infant in the crib?"

    (The infant spoke and) said, "I am a servant of God. He has given me the scripture, and has appointed me a prophet.

    "He made me blessed wherever I go, and enjoined me to observe the Contact Prayers (Salat) and the obligatory charity (Zakat) for as long as I live.

    "I am to honor my mother; He did not make me a disobedient rebel.

    "And peace be upon me the day I was born, the day I die, and the day I get resurrected."

    “That was Jesus, the son of Mary, and this is the truth of this matter, about which they continue to doubt.”

    “It does not befit God that He begets a son, be He glorified. To have anything done, He simply says to it, "Be," and it is.”

    Thanks for taking time to read my post. Please take a moment to visit whyIslam org website.

    April 18, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • All in need of a Saviour

      JESUS CHRIST saviour for all. Died on a cross for all, buried, and rose on the 3rd day.

      April 18, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Needy, all that you claim should be prefaced with "even though I have absolutely no proof, I allege that. . ."

      April 18, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
    • All in need of a Saviour

      @Ace. No disrespect to your suggestion. However, I must be true to what I do know.

      No proof required. GOD said it, 500+ witnesses, 11 disciples and Roman soldiers.

      When you have a time machine ready, let's go back and see it in person ourselves. Some scientific minds must exist to make that happen. You guys are so much smarter than us Christians.

      You know everything?

      April 18, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      I do not claim to know everything, but I do not tend to belief things with no evidence at all. "I don't know" is a far superior answer than "some alleged god, with zero evidence to support its existence, did it."

      April 18, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • All in need of a Saviour


      Blind people are not able to see the blue sky or our sun. However, they both exist.

      Deaf people do not hear the freight train coming at them, the horn blasting, or the whistle blowing. However, the freight train exist.

      How do you want to prove GOD exist? Proof is everywhere.

      Which are you, blind or deaf?

      April 18, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Neither deaf nor blind, just stating "the emperor has no clothes." What proof would I accept – that's easy. Your god shows up at a specific time and place, and unambiguously and permanently eliminates child hunger worldwide, with no trickery and violent tantrums and reprisals afterwards. That would be an entity I could respect, and would even by lunch for. But he would still have some explaining to do about his mysterious ways and the grief they cause.

      April 18, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • All in need of a Saviour


      You have help me understand your view of who GOD should be. Your image of HIM, is what most unbelievers have. I did too. Until, very important part, I found out, GOD is not Santa clause or a gennie, or has to answer to any of HIS creation for the fact we decided to not follow HIS perfect plan for our life. Humans cause suffering to exist, we sinned, we live in a sinful world, it is not perfect or is it heaven. GOD wanted and still wants the best for us. So much, HE gave HIS only SON to pay our debt for our sins. The world remains fallen, since everyone fails to recognize these facts.

      We blame GOD, that's easier than taking responsibility for our actions.

      When you take time to know GOD, you'll understand the big picture.

      Imperfect people cannot tell a perfect GOD how HE should conduct HIS business.

      Like the Trump would tell an arrogant employee – "YOUR FIRED!"

      I am thankful for GOD'S. Grace and Mercy. Which neither we deserve.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      AND as we ALL know, capitalizing CERTAIN words means that ALL of what we SAY is more reliable by default. I mean, who needs to ACTUALLY present evidence if you can capitalize CERTAIN words.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      There is no point in discussing the finer attributes of any god until it is shown that at least one god exists. Until it is proven that some god exists, everything else is just hacking over the rules to the biggest and oldest fantasy role playing game, with heavy emphasis on fantasy and game. In summary, you prove your, or any, god exists and I'll be happy to discuss other aspects.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
  2. Stashland

    It kinda seams like bev and billy might have been dating. I think they were life partners more than confidants. Due to there age and chosen profession they likley had to keep the relationship hidden.

    April 18, 2013 at 11:33 am |
    • All in need of a Saviour

      Sad to read your comments.

      April 18, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
    • Esther

      You are a sad person.

      April 18, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
  3. All in need of a Saviour

    Both Billy Graham and Beverly Shea knew they were sinners in need of a saviour. JESUS CHRIST!

    Mr. Shea, you will be missed.

    I grew up seeing you in person and on TV. Your love of GOD was and is inspiring.

    Enjoy heaven. I know you are safely in the arms of the LORD now.

    April 18, 2013 at 11:25 am |

    Mr. Shea was an outstanding song writer and he will be sorely missed. Our prayers are with his family as well as the Grahams.

    April 18, 2013 at 10:55 am |
  5. Douglas McDuff

    Guess these amazing God fearing folks simply mean nothing to the average liberal eh? Shame you can't see the real America that I grew up in, the one that respects CHRIST and country...unlike this/these false messiah(S) you idolize these days huh??? You lib folks only remind me that respect is important and that the ways of Saul Arlinsky and Hitler aren't much different than what we see being played out on our people these days huh??? SPEW on know it alls....

    April 18, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      forget your meds today?

      April 18, 2013 at 10:58 am |
    • Ene

      So you're saying that all liberals are anti-Christ, anti-goodness, and anti-kindness? - You, sir, are anti-right!

      April 18, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • PapaCacaLatte

      Did you get discharged today? What meds did they give you? They're obviously not working!

      April 20, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
  6. David Crosby

    Billy Graham is just another Rasputin...

    April 18, 2013 at 10:23 am |
  7. Haus

    What a long life (104), a big heart, and love for others in sharing Christ along with Dr. Graham. Love and peace to his family in knowing their loved one is in heaven. Mr. Shea was a good hearted man.

    April 18, 2013 at 9:49 am |
  8. TG

    Did Jesus say to be a gospel singer or to spread the gospel "from house to house" ? Just before his ascension to heaven, Jesus gave the specific command to his eleven faithful apostles, to "go therefore and make disciples of peoples of all the nations, baptizing them....teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you".(Matt 28:19, 20)

    Furthermore, the apostle Paul told the Ephesian "brothers" that "I did not hold back from telling you any of the things that were profitable nor from teaching you publicly and from house to house."(Acts 20:20) The command to "make disciples", going "from house to house", is obligatory upon all who call themselves "Christian". Thus Mr George Beverly Shea (nor Billy Graham) did not fulfill the divine commission that Jesus gave to all his true followers.

    April 18, 2013 at 9:40 am |
    • Tim

      But not for lack of trying.

      April 18, 2013 at 10:12 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      I don't allow cultists or soliciters (same thing really)at my door...

      April 18, 2013 at 10:26 am |
    • All in need of a Saviour

      Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound.

      April 18, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • mari

      Is it possible to your little mind to accept that the Bible also talks about singing to the Lord. Is it possible that his mission in life was to make that sweet sound that pleased the Lord. Is it possible that his songs may have brought people to the Lord. Lets hope the Lord doesn't judge you the way you are judging this man.

      April 18, 2013 at 11:53 am |
  9. Rob-Texas

    Can't people honor a man they respected and enjoyed his gifts without being bullied by others who share a different point of view? Sad shame...

    April 18, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • Tim Brown

      Do you live in West? Bless the lord!

      April 18, 2013 at 9:40 am |
    • Mary

      Plenty of Christians-only sites out there where free speech isn't allowed, if you prefer?

      April 18, 2013 at 10:02 am |
    • Shakingmyhead

      Well, Mary dear, why dont you just round us Christians up and put us in concentration camps..that'll shut us up. How ironic that those who DEMAND tolerance FAIL to give it. God bless Mr. Shea's family at this sad time.

      April 18, 2013 at 10:10 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      obviously not

      April 18, 2013 at 10:20 am |
    • Mary

      Actually, it's people like you who want to silence all your critics, and I think atheists have much more to fear from Christians. There was, after all, that call to "register" all known atheists a while back. I seriously don't think it was to send us cards on our birthdays, do you?

      There's also a pretty big double standard here. When Christopher Hitchens died there certainly wasn't any limit to the hatred being spewed. Even now, whenever his name pops up on this blog, there is no shortage of comments referencing his wished for tortures in hell. So, mind the planks in your own eyes before complaining that not everyone was a fan, OK?

      April 18, 2013 at 10:23 am |
    • Eric the Red

      There's no better free entertainment than watching Christians and atheists at each others' throats.

      April 18, 2013 at 11:01 am |
    • Mary

      Eric the Red
      Why is honest criticism seen as going for someone's throat?

      April 18, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
  10. PraiseTheLard

    I guess the collective I.Q. of the country just went up a bit...

    April 18, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • Tim Brown

      Now if the "lord" would just take the grahams.

      April 18, 2013 at 9:37 am |
    • Haus

      Lard and Tim...no doubt he will one day take Dr. Graham...it's you, me, and the rest of us I'm concerned about.

      April 18, 2013 at 10:39 am |
    • PraiseTheLard

      I know I am on my way to Hell but I couldn't resist making fun of Christ.

      April 18, 2013 at 11:08 am |
  11. Samuel E. Wyndham

    I loved to sit and listen to him sing. He had a great way of getting into someone life.
    I will miss him and his voice.

    April 18, 2013 at 9:25 am |
  12. Thatguy371

    Hard to not like Mr Shea. Always had a kind word to say and always had a great singing voice. Maybe before you hurl blind insults, perhaps thinking you're clever, you should instead just allowed those who enjoyed his work to express their condolences and memories of the man. It's just common courtesy.

    April 18, 2013 at 7:22 am |
  13. samson j.


    CNN screwed the news up soo bad today that they shutdown all comments on most articles except the most innocuous stories.

    Seriously, check it out, pretty funny.

    Once again CNN is the pinnacle of fair unbiased news and freedom of speech, except when they look bad and do everything they can to cover it up.

    April 18, 2013 at 5:01 am |
    • Tim Brown

      And I thought they were just afraid of what we would say about Texas.

      April 18, 2013 at 9:35 am |
  14. m.r.walts

    Christ stated that what is in a person's heart is what he/or she speaks too many hate filled souls speaking out of vanity. while the "islamist and akhbar" spill out hate...they enjoy the freedom to do so in the USA-a Judeo-Christian nation. In the east the budhists and islamists are killing each other and the zealot jihadists kill christians and freedom loving people who desire that freedom. As a christian american woman i am blessed. in the east a woman is nothing. How many die in the name of Mohamed.Think

    April 18, 2013 at 3:20 am |
    • sam stone

      if christians are so taken with freedom, why do they seek to deny freedom to marry to a percentage of the adult population?

      April 18, 2013 at 5:01 am |
    • csm_in_dc

      Sam, I agree that polygamists should marry.

      April 18, 2013 at 8:54 am |
    • sam stone

      csm: as long as they are adults, i have no problem with polygamy

      April 18, 2013 at 8:58 am |
    • Tim Brown

      We don't have any quotes from Christ, just BS written generations later, and we're not a jeudo-christian nation.

      April 18, 2013 at 9:28 am |
    • Mary

      How could anyone really know what was in Shea's heart? Dan Barker was as close to Billy as Shea ever was for a long time, and Billy didn't suspect that his friend was actually an atheist until he told him.

      April 18, 2013 at 10:13 am |
  15. Xty

    While on Earth, Bev sang beautifully for JESUS. He had a glorious voice which old age even could not lay waste. He has run the good race and has now gone to join the celestial choir. What a blessed life!!! May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen!!!

    April 18, 2013 at 1:16 am |
    • Tim Brown

      Or their bodies just rot in the ground like everybody else.

      April 18, 2013 at 9:39 am |
  16. Earl

    In other news, Elvis was spotted on I10 near Phoenix.

    April 18, 2013 at 12:59 am |
    • Lucy-Loo

      He was eating Buger King. I saw him.

      April 18, 2013 at 1:06 am |
  17. Not about this article

    Does anyone else feel as though they are somehow in a different dimension, reality, or universe than they were in a few months ago? Does anyone else feel like everything changed just slightly?

    April 17, 2013 at 11:25 pm |
    • lucid

      actually, yes

      April 17, 2013 at 11:46 pm |

      Yes, of course.

      April 18, 2013 at 12:36 am |
  18. Carolyn

    Mr. Shea was truly a man of God. Nobody could sing "How Great Thou Art" like he could. That was the first time I had ever heard that song, and I fell in love with it. I admired the fact that he used his talent to serve the Lord. I know that when he woke up on the other side, he was greeted by a loving voice that said, "Well done, Thou good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of thy Lord." Like someone else on this post mentioned earlier, he was committed to Jesus Christ. That's why I know if anybody ever died and went to Heaven , it was him. RIP Mr. Shea. Every time I hear "How Great Thou Art", I will think of you. He's now receiving his just rewards.

    April 17, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
    • BeverlyNC

      AMEN. Great man and incredible singer.

      Now Franklin is a different story. He is a fraud, in it for the money, and is destroying his father's legacy by becoming involved in politics. Billy never did and just offered to be a caring, supportive listener and friend to ALL Presidents. Franklin has violated the non-profit status by constantly taking uninformed political stands. His organization should lose their tax-exempt status and be considered a religious PAC.

      April 18, 2013 at 12:28 am |
    • Lucy-Loo

      It is too bad about Franklin. He's destroying his father's legacy with his weirdness.

      April 18, 2013 at 12:58 am |
    • STA STA


      April 18, 2013 at 5:04 am |
  19. Cherie

    I am sorry I even brought this up. It would appear I am the target for name calling. I am simply pointing out that CNN was the only news organization to not post this on their website and not until late today. Fox, CBS, NBC and ABC all had their obituary on the main page of their websites and all done yesterday. And to call Mr. Shea a confidant? Really? True, he and Billy Graham were close friends but GBS will always be known for his resonant baritone voice and he exemplified masterfully in "How Great Thou Art." So, if you want to go ahead and bash me, I really don't care. I said my peace and will always honor his memory and his remarkable life and voice. A great man is now singing God's praises directly in His presence. And I could care less what you Christian-bashers think. It only serves to show who the real bigots are.

    April 17, 2013 at 9:29 pm |

      CRY MOAR


      April 17, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
    • .

      Who are the real bigots, Chérie?

      April 17, 2013 at 11:17 pm |
    • janey33

      The real bigots are those who cannot stand anyone who doesn't agree with their beliefs. Look the word up in the dictionary. That means anyone who hates Christians. Christians are not bigots. They are followers of Jesus, who teaches love, compassion, forgiveness, and tolerance. Nothing at all bigoted about that.

      April 18, 2013 at 12:24 am |
    • janey33

      HotAirAce...Those who know God do not need to prove His existance. They will spend eternity with Him in Heaven. You don't matter to them. If you don't believe, that is your problem. Your hatred cannot change what they know to be true.

      April 18, 2013 at 12:37 am |


      April 18, 2013 at 12:39 am |
    • tallulah13

      See, Janey, there's the problem. You believe your god exists, much the way that the followers of Zeus, or Osiris, or Thor, or any other god believed. True believers will always have this conviction, despite the utter lack of evidence. And none of that belief actually makes real any god, devil, heaven or hell.

      April 18, 2013 at 12:44 am |
    • Dombi

      With all that is going on George Beverly Shea's death will not even make a blip on the news BUT Mr. Shea stood side by side with Billy Graham working to bring the gospel to every nation.
      He will rest in peace.

      April 18, 2013 at 12:49 am |
    • janey33

      tallulah13...No problem at all. Christians don't believe that God exists. They KNOW He does from presonal experience. To someone who knows God, the evidence is everywhere. Someone like you cannot understand that, so you poke fun out of something that you do not understand. That is hateful. Even if God didn't exist, I would much rather have friends that follow the love, compassion, and forgiveness that Jesus teaches than to deal with the hatred of those who reject Him.

      April 18, 2013 at 12:53 am |
    • Lucy-Loo

      The gospel is nonsense for fools.

      April 18, 2013 at 12:59 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Janey, I do not hate believers, no matter which cult they belong to. I hate religion, the same way you delusionals like to say "hate the sin, love the sinner."

      April 18, 2013 at 1:00 am |



      April 18, 2013 at 1:04 am |
    • sam stone

      "The real bigots are those who cannot stand anyone who doesn't agree with their beliefs"

      oooh, the scathing touch of irony

      April 18, 2013 at 6:25 am |
    • sam stone

      janey: i do not hate believers in general. i have many friends and family who are believers. they are generally fine people, although i disagree with them on some things. we do not discuss it. you, on the other hand are a blowhard, and by your own defintion a bigot.

      You are delusional. I suggest voluntary confinement to a psych ward to clean you of your bitterness and hatred.

      April 18, 2013 at 6:30 am |
  20. Cora

    Met him at the Billy Graham center in Minneapolis and never forgot the experience. He was very attentive to every word I said. A citizen of the Kingdom in earnest now...

    April 17, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
1 2 3 4
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.