The LeFevres

The LeFevres
For more than fifty years, from the 1920s through the 1970s, the LeFevre family was one of the best-known acts performing southern gospel music. Although the LeFevres were natives of middle Tennessee, they were based in Atlanta during most of their career.
The brothers Urias (1910-79) and Alphus (1912-88) LeFevre came from a musically talented family. They attended the Bible Training School (later Lee College), a Church of God–sponsored institution in Cleveland, Tennessee. It was there, as members of the Bible Training School Quartet Number Two, that they embarked on their careers as gospel music performers. In 1934 Urias married Eva Mae Whittington (1917-2009), the daughter of a Church of God pastor. An accomplished piano player and vocalist, Eva Mae immediately joined Urias and Alphus as accompanist and alto singer.
In 1939 the group moved to Atlanta, where they spent the rest of their careers. Initially they began performing on radio station WGST as the LeFevre Trio. When the ensemble was expanded to include other family members, as well as unrelated professional singers and musicians, the group began billing themselves as the LeFevres.
In the 1940s the LeFevres made their first recordings, 78-rpm records made in the WGST studios and issued on the Bibletone label. The group would later record for Word, a well-known gospel music label, and their own Sing label.
Television provided the LeFevres with their greatest exposure. In the early 1950s they began performing on Atlanta's WAGA-TV. By 1960 they also had programs on television stations in other nearby cities. In the days before the introduction of videotape, they had to travel to these cities, where their programs were aired live. The LeFevres later formed the Gospel Singing Caravan, the first of the syndicated gospel-music television programs that were highly popular in the 1960s. This program featured, in addition to the LeFevres, several other well-known gospel music groups. At its peak the show was seen on sixty-five television stations from coast to coast.
Personal appearances were a major source of income for the LeFevres. In 1959 they bought their first customized tour bus, which was equipped to sleep six people and outfitted with other conveniences to ease the burden of almost around-the-clock travel. At the peak of their popularity, they traveled up to 100,000 miles a year to fill as many as 250 concert dates throughout the United States and Canada.
In 1965 Billboard magazine referred to the LeFevres as "Jacks of All Gospel Trades" and reported that they were "the center of a vast gospel music operation at Atlanta." The LeFevres' enterprises included publishing sheet music and songbooks and operating a state-of-the-art recording studio, where gospel music acts recorded. The LeFevres also owned a television production company that produced syndicated programs featuring not only gospel acts but also country music artists. The LeFevre businesses also included a booking agency.
In the late 1970s the LeFevres retired and sold their gospel music businesses to Rex Nelon, a longtime member of their group. He subsequently formed his own group, the Rex Nelon Singers, which had a long and successful stint in the gospel music business. Although Eva Mae LeFevre officially retired in 1977, she continued to perform intermittently until her death in 2009. She was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1977 and into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1985. Urias was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1986, and both he and Eva Mae were inducted into the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1997.


Further Reading
Wayne W. Daniel, "The LeFevres: Gospel Music Pioneers," Rejoice! The Gospel Music Magazine 3 (1991).

Bob Terrell, The Music Men: The Story of Professional Gospel Quartet Singing (Asheville, N.C.: Bob Terrell, 1990).
Cite This Article
Daniel, Wayne W. "The LeFevres." New Georgia Encyclopedia. 03 June 2019. Web. 08 September 2021.
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