April 17, 2013 / 4:10 AM / in 6 years

Gospel singer George Beverly Shea dead at 104

Lifetime achievement award recipient George Beverly Shea attends the Recording Academy Special Merit Awards Ceremony in Los Angeles February 12, 2011. REUTERS/Phil McCarten

(Reuters) - George Beverly Shea, a gospel singer with a deep baritone voice who teamed with Billy Graham for more than 60 years, died on Tuesday after a brief illness, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association said. He was 104.

Shea, was born in Ontario, Canada, where his father was a Wesleyan Methodist minister. He first sang for Graham in 1943 and joined the first of Graham’s city-wide crusades in 1947, the association said.

“Bev was one of the most humble, gracious men I have ever known and one of my closest friends,” Billy Graham said in a statement announcing his death. “I loved him as a brother.”

Shea recorded more than 70 albums and received 10 Grammy Award nominations, winning one in 1965. He also received a lifetime achievement award from the organization in 2011.

He was a member of the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame and the Religious Broadcasting Hall of Fame and was inducted into the inaugural class of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists’ “Hall of Faith” in 2008.

Shea, who lived in North Carolina, is survived by his wife, Karlene, and his children from his first marriage, Ronald and Elaine. His first wife, Erma, died in 1976.

Reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis; Editing by Paul Simao

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