The Blackwood Quartet are presenting The Gospel Side of Elvis in Penticton on Nov. 3. Submitted photo

Blackwood Quartet touring the province

Old family friends of Elvis Presley are bringing a different side of the King of Rock and Roll to Penticton on Nov. 3.

The award-winning Blackwood Quartet kicks off the B.C. leg of their new tour, The Gospel Side of Elvis, at Cleland Community Theatre at 7:30 p.m. The group will also be performing in Kamloops (Nov. 4 at the Kamloops Coast Hotel and Conference Centre), Kelowna (Nov. 5 Kelowna Community Theatre), Vernon (Nov. 6 at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre), Maple Ridge (Nov. 9 at the ACT Arts Centre) and Surrey (Nov.10 at the Surrey Arts Centre).

They will be joined by award-winning tribute artist Roger Anderson for parts of the show.

“We’re really excited to be coming up there,” said Mark Blackwood, the third generation gospel singer, during a phone interview from his home in Nashville, Tenn. “We’ve performed in B.C. before but haven’t toured the entire province like we’re doing this time. We’ve got six dates in eight days. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Long before the Ain’t Nothing But a Hound Dog singer became famous for gyrating those hips of his, a connection between the families was formed.

Blackwood’s dad Cecil grew up going to church with Elvis Presley and attended the same Sunday school.

“We knew him from around the neighbourhood,” Blackwood said nonchalantly.

During the show, he tells a story about the day his parents brought him home from the hospital as a newborn in 1954 a few weeks before Presley recorded his first breakout hits That’s All Right and Blue Moon of Kentucky for Sun Records.

“He lived two doors down from us. My mom carried me into the apartment where we lived. Elvis ran across the grass yelling for my dad, ‘Cecil, Cecil. Let me see your new baby.’ And my mom turned to my dad and said, ‘Get that nasty boy away from my baby.’ Elvis was hurt but forgave her because he knew her from church. They had no idea then that one day he would go on to sell millions of records and become the icon he is.”

Although Presley might have risen to the ranks of cultural icon, the other singers in the neighbourhood — the Blackwoods — did alright for themselves too. The quartet, which spans three generations of the family, has earned nine Grammy Awards, 27 Dove Awards and sold over 60 million albums.

The group was started back in 1934 by Mark Blackwood’s grandfather, Roy Blackwood, along with his son RW and brothers, Doyle and James Blackwood. Different members eventually came into the mix, and the group had much success appearing on popular TV shows of the day including The Barbara Mandrell Show, Hee Haw and the Arthur Godfrey Talent Show.

In 1954, just after Mark Blackwood was born, his uncle RW tragically died in a plane crash. Presley considered joining the group in the wake of the tragedy, but his career in a new form of music dubbed rock and roll was just starting to takeoff. Instead Cecil, Mark Blackwood’s father, joined the group.

Cecil Blackwood’s quartet would later go on to sing at Elvis’s grandmother’s funeral and, when brother James Blackwood was at the helm the quartet, sang at Elvis’s funeral in 1977.

“Everyone knows the rock and roll side of Elvis but he was really a gospel singer. My grandmother was shocked at his music. A lot of people think Elvis was born to sing rock and roll, but we think he was born to sing gospel. It was a big part of his life and actually he won three Grammys in his career, and all were for his gospel work,” he said.

Blackwood said those who come to the show will be treated to an uplifting experience listening to traditional gospel songs and personal stories about the family’s connection to Elvis.

“The fame never changed him with us. He was always Elvis and he appreciated us and we miss him. The show’s filled with heart touching stories and uplifting gospel music. Everyone loves gospel music. We don’t want people to forget he loved the gospel.”

Tickets for the show are $48 and can be bought online at or by calling 1-888-790-1477.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ryga Arts Festival to include virtual and in-person events

Arts festival in Summerland will run from Aug. 15 to 23

Okanagan and Shuswap MPs want federal funds to help stop invasive species

Concerns raised that spending favours Eastern Canada.

Summerland Ornamental Gardens remain closed

Staff and volunteers continue to weed and maintain plants

Canada’s deficit result of investing in Canadians: Minister of Middle-Class Prosperity

Minister Mona Fortier said the government is working on the next steps as the economy restarts

Penticton photographer publishes book showcasing resilience of Okanagan people

Okanagan Strong showcases the bravery of many during crisis; from COVID-19, to floods, and fires

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

VIDEO: Vancouver Island cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

COVID-19 cases identified in Kelowna, after public gatherings

Those who were downtown or at the waterfront from June 25 to July 6 maybe have been exposed to COVID-19.

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Summerland Blossom Youth Ambassador Program to hold coronation

Event will be held by video as a result of COVID-19 precautions

Vernon shutterbugs capture rainbow

A rain event July 9 made way for a glorious sight

Pooch abandoned at Penticton doggy daycare suffered from oral disease

A fundraiser for Okie held by the BC SPCA surpassed its goal of $1,700

Couple shaken up after homophobic encounter at Kelowna mall

‘We’re not in the States; we’re not in some little hick town; we’re in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. And it still happens’

Summerland to allow in-person attendance at July 13 council meetings

Two meetings will be held at Summerland Arena Banquet Room to accommodate public

Most Read