EVA MAE LeFEVRE
                      ...First Lady of Southern Gospel Music

In the early 1950s I was touring through Mississippi. There were many radio
stations broadcasting Gospel music singers. This was the first time I was
introduced to the music and ministry of the LeFevres. Front and center on
those radio performances was the pianist, alto singer and master of
ceremonies, Eva Mae.

She first began singing and playing the piano as a young child at her father’s
church in South Carolina.It was in the church she learned to perfect her
musical skills and trademark voice. She was already an exceptional pianist
and singer at the time she met and married Urias LeFevere, a member of an
already-established group.

    A MEMORABLE LEGACY
    The LeFevres were originally from Smithville, Tennessee. The singing
    family group, started in 1921, included brothers Urias and Alphus and
    sisters Maude and Omega (Peggy). The sisters eventually left to start
    families, and in 1934, Urias and Eva Mae Whittington married when she
    was 17. The rest, as people say, is history.

    On their journey to becoming one of the South's best Gospel music
    singers and musicians, they moved to Charleston, South Carolina in
    1937 and then Atlanta in 1939, where they would remain (except for a
    short stint in Philadelphia during the mid-1950s) for the rest of their
    professional career together. On WGST radio and during concerts, they
    referred to themselves as The LeFevre Trio. However, as they added
    other family members and accompanists, they decided to refer to
    themselves simply as The LeFevres.

    Their first commercial recordings were made in the 1940s and released
    on Bibletone Records. Later releases were issued on Word Records
    and their own label, Sing Music Company. As television became more
    popular, the group started appearing on Atlanta's WAGA-TV.

    For the next half century, she traveled the nation spreading the good
    news of Southern Gospel Music through her trademark alto voice and
    piano artistry. From their home base in Atlanta in 1939, the LeFevre
    Trio became staples on WGST radio and, by the early 1960s, traveled
    as many as 100,000 miles a year to concerts across the country.

Then during the 1960s, the group's
Gospel Singing Caravan, one of the
pioneering Gospel music television
programs taped with the Johnson
Sisters, the Prophets, and the Blue
Ridge Quartet, was syndicated
nationwide, causing a new wave of
popularity. The group toured at least
100,000 miles a year, logging an
average of 250 shows each year
throughout North America. In addition
the family owned their own recording
studio, LeFevre Sound, published
sheet music for the Gospel market,
produced syndicated television
shows for Gospel and country music
singers, and ran their own booking
agency.

Eva Mae became unique as not just
one of the few women who were part
of professional Gospel groups during
that time, but was one of the first women
to be the master of ceremonies for her
group. Eventually known as the First Lady of Gospel Music, Eva Mae LeFevre became the first living woman to be
inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1978. Ten years later, she was the first gospel music inductee into
the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. She was inducted into the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame in the inaugural
class of 1997.

    Life on the road was truly their
    journey toward four decades
    together. They were unique,
    original and progressive.

    Eva Mae first began singing and
    playing the piano as a young
    child at her father’s church in
    South Carolina. In 1934, she
    married Urias LeFevre and began
    a 40 year journey leading The
    Lefevres, which became one of
    the most beloved groups in
    gospel music history. Eva Mae’s
    trademark alto voice and piano
    artistry became a defining
    influence for the LeFevres.

    A MEMORABLE WOMAN
    I remember the first time I met her
    backstage at a concert. It was
    during the late 1950s in Toronto
where both of our groups were appearing, it was apparent to all that she was the same person on and off stage. She
didn't "turn it on" in front of people and "turn it off" after the LeFevres finished singing. I believe this was the key to
her success.

    At that time there were few groups as popular and in demand as
    the LeFevres, and Eva Mae was a huge part of the spread of our
    music throughout Canada.

    Oh, and once you met her, you never forgot her sense of humor,
    both on and off stage. I think that was one of the key
    characteristics that made her such a respected trooper. She
    seemed to thrive with a grueling road schedule and the
    responsibilities of her growing family that included Pierce,
    Meurice, Andrea,  Mylon and Monteia..

THE LEGACY CONTINUES
    For decades, the LeFevres blazed new trails in Gospel Music,
    winning awards and singing to Presidents and dignitaries. In the
    late 1970's, the LeFevres retired and sold their interests to group
    member Rex Nelon, who formed the Rex Nelon Singers.

    Some thought the LeFevre name would disappear when the trio
    retired, but Eva Mae continued singing and kept the family's
    name alive with appearances on television and programs such as
    Bill and Gloria Gaither's Homecoming series. In the 1980's and
    90's, Urias and Eva Mae's son, Mylon LeFevre, became one of
    the top acts in Contemporary Christian Music with his band,
    Broken Heart, and was eventually inducted into the Gospel Music
    Hall of Fame. Once again, the LeFevre name continued to break
    new ground in Christian Music.

More recently, the LeFevre name is stronger than ever with the emergence the LeFevre Quartet, led by Mike
LeFevre (known for his baritone voice and a career that has included stints with The Singing Americans, Brian Free
& Assurance and Gold City). Within just one year of formation, Gospel music fans voted them their 2006 Horizon
Group of The Year. In 2007, the group was voted "Breakout Artist of The Year" in the Southern Gospel Awards and
in 2009, their song, "Big Mighty God" was nominated for a Dove Award. There's been no looking back since then.

    I REMEMBER
    Eva Mae passed from this life on May 18, 2009, at the age of 91. I observed
    firsthand the way she lived out her faith as one of His great ambassadors of
    song.

    What an exceptional talent! What a memorable woman! Today, at least in my
    memory, she stands strong and tall as one of the most talented pianists and
    singers who made an indelible mark on the world. She will forever be a legend
    among Gospel music greats.

    And I salute her!
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Read the informative
and revealing
Southern
Gospel News
feature
written by
John Scheideman:
Henry
Slaughter...Southern
Gospel 101.
MyBestYears.com I REMEMBER eColumnist Henry Slaughter has
captivated countless audiences around the globe with his award-winning
keyboard artistry.

During the past six decades he has been associated with some of the top
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  • Stamps-Ozark Quartet
  • Weatherfords
  • Rex Humbard
  • Imperials
  • Bill and Gloria Gaither

But his story is more than national awards and international recognition, and
his well-received autobiography,
In Search of the Pearl of Great Price, first
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The book has not been widely available for several years, so we asked Henry
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This is the book of which
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THANKS, I THINK I’LL PLAY ONE features 18 incredible songs by the eight-
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In 1973 Henry & Hazel Slaughter celebrated 25 years together with this
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Slaughter Writes - Imperials Sing CD
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Henry Slaughter's autobiography,
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  • Henry and Hazel's CD, Tribute - To God Be the Glory
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  • Henry's double-album CD, Great Hymns of Our Time
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In 1959 the LeFevres (left to right: Urias LeFevre, Eva Mae
LeFevre, Alphus LeFevre, Jimmy Jones, Pierce LeFevre, and
Rex Nelon) bought their first customized tour bus.
The Le Feveres display their new 1962 GM Motor Coach,
standing in front of the LeFevres' offices and recording studio in
northwest Atlanta.
The LeFevres in 1964...Eva Mae in the
center surrounded by (clockwise,
beginning at the top) Urias LeFevre, Rex
Nelon, Pierce LeFevre, Mylon LeFevre
and "Uncle Alf" LeFevre.
The Trio with Eva Mae's father
Recordings featuring
Eva Mae LeFevre