The year was 1934. Brothers Roy, Doyle and James Blackwood, along with Roy’s son R.W., formed what was to become the most beloved and respected gospel group of all time, The Blackwood Brothers Quartet.
Bill Shaw and Bill Lyles eventually joined the group and together with James and R.W. Blackwood, this quartet went on to be featured on several TV shows including The Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters,the beloved American classic, Hee Haw and the prestigious Arthur Godfrey Talent Show in 1954.
A few weeks later, that same year in Clanton, Alabama, tragedy struck when two members of the group, R.W. Blackwood and Bill Lyles,were killed in a plane crash. After the accident, many fans and critics alike believed that the quartet would not be able to go forth. However, as fate would have it, R.W.’s youngest brother, Cecil Blackwood joined the group along with the bass singer, J.D. Sumner, silencing any doubts the public had about the quartet continuing to be a force in gospel music.
Despite the family tragedy, earlier that same month saw the birth of Cecil Blackwood’s son, Mark, who has held on to the tradition and sound that has made the Blackwood name world famous.
Mark joined his family in the Blackwood Brothers Quartet in 1986, where he sang lead for many years alongside his dad, Cecil and many other talented singers. Mark also worked as a producer on the Grammy award winning Blackwood Brothers albums of the early 1980s.
In 2012, Mark Blackwood formed the Blackwood Quartet. The group tours regularly and brings the word of Christ through song, to both believers and non-believers alike. The quartet has had the privilege of performing with Willie Nelson and many other great artists. Recently, we have seen our popularity grow among Elvis tribute artist fans, as well.
The Fabulous Ambassadors
The Fabulous Ambassadors were originally 2 sets of brothers. At the ages of 10 and 12 Dan and Joe Lentino with Fred and Tom Reich were opening for several national acts like Johnny Cash and June Carter and had numerous television appearances. As the novelty of the ages wore off in the early 70’s Dan Lentino formed a Rock N Roll revival band known as The Fabulous Ambassadors that became very successful in the Chicago area. In 1972, the first time Lentino saw Elvis perform live, the band brought in a new 16-year-old lead singer that looked and sounded just like Elvis. His name was Rick Saucedo. The new combination caused the audiences to go crazy. Dan took Rick under his management and training and five years later, just after Elvis passed away, Dan brought Rick and the Ambassadors to Broadway where he directed the show ‘Elvis the Legend Lives’ which ran at the famous Palace Theater in New York for 16 weeks. They incorporated Elvis’ own backup singers, the legendary Jordanaires in the show as well as some of Elvis’ own musicians, like drummer DJ Fontana. The show also toured the US and Canada which included a successful run at the Stardust Hotel in Las Vegas. Following that show, Lentino produced and directed a series of successful tours featuring some of the greatest tribute artists on the continent all accompanied by the Fabulous Ambassadors. The Ambassadors have been featured in The Elvis Memorial Concert Tour, 3 Faces of the King and currently, the highly successful and long running Elvis Birthday Tribute Tour. In 1983 the Ambassadors enjoyed their own success again with a regional and European hit record. The band established a 30-year friendship and business association with The Jordanaires and DJ Fontana. That is actually longer than they knew or worked with Elvis. Over many years the band had formed close friendships and business relationships with JD Sumner and the Stamps, Charlie Hodge, Jerry Scheff, and Joe Esposito, Elvis’ right hand man, road manger, and undisputedly the man who was closest to Elvis. For the last eight years the band has done countless shows with The Sweet Inspirations, Elvis’ female back up singers for his Las Vegas shows through his entire concert career. Recently, Dan Lentino and The Fabulous Ambassadors took the Elvis show to South America and Europe where the response was unbelievable; exposing these legends who lived and worked with Elvis to new markets. Dan Lentino and the Ambassadors founded, managed and guided the careers of the worlds most successful Elvis Tribute Artists including Rick Saucedo, Gary Wesley, Trent Carlini, Ryan Pelton, Donny Edwards, Justin Shandor and currently Shawn Klush. The band has provided the music for 5 Elvis related tribute albums and have participated in, been consulted on or been listed in numerous Elvis related tribute books and TV segments. They were the band for the very first ETA convention and the very first worldwide ETA competition in Montreal. The Fabulous Ambassadors pride themselves in their knowledge of the multiple styles and arrangements performed and recorded by Elvis. From the licks of Scotty Moore, to the country picking of James Burton: the famous back beat of DJ Fontana to the thunder rolls of Ronnie Tutt, The Fabulous Ambassadors are students and experts on the music of Elvis Presley.