The greatest Grammy Awards moment for 2011 had nothing to do with Lady GaGa, Eminem, Lady Antebellum or Arcade Fire. In fact it had nothing to do with Sunday’s national broadcast at all. The greatest 2011 Grammy moment came on Saturday night at the Wilshire Ebell Theater in Los Angeles when 102-year-old Christian music singer George Beverly Shea received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award along with the likes of Dolly Parton, Julie Andrews and The Ramones. Known mainly for singing hymns at Billy Graham crusades, George has quietly set the bar for what a Christian singer can achieve in this world.
Today we make a big deal when we hear Switchfoot or MuteMath on secular radio…however George’s only record contract has always been with secular labels throughout his entire career – first with Decca…which then folded into RCA. It was only after RCA became involved with the Christian music industry that Shea’s albums started being distributed to the Christian markets through Word Music. His music was featured on general secular radio stations years before the contemporary Christian music scene came into being. His songs made the pop charts long before Amy Grant cracked the Top Ten with “Find A Way”. He was also featured regularly in national live broadcasts on major television networks during prime time.
Along with Sunday’s Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award, George received 10 Grammy nominations over the years with 1 previous Grammy win. He’s had countless Dove Awards and has been inducted into several music hall of fames. Along with all of that…according to the Guinness Book Of World Records…he holds the record for singing in person to the most people, with an estimated cumulative live audience of 220 million people. That’s more than The Beatles, Elvis, U2 and Garth Brooks combined.
But here’s why his Grammy Award on Saturday night was the greatest moment…in my eyes. It’s because George beverly Shea has done all of this for a half-century with humility and a servant’s heart…without even a hint of scandal or question of his integrity. He has served God in a larger capacity than any Christian singer in history…and at 102-years-old is still making a relevant impact for the Kingdom of God. Talk about finishing well. Talk about “well done thy good and faithful servant”. Forget riding in on an egg, bicycles flying all over the stage and crazy red carpet moments. The 2011 Grammy Awards belonged to a true man of God.