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1986 Inductees

Urias LeFevre

By January 1, 2018May 5th, 20212 Comments

Inducted 1986

URIAS LeFEVRE

(1910 – 1979)

URIAS LeFEVRE was a founding member and patriarch of the legendary, mid-twentieth century, Southern Gospel group, The LeFevres.

Urias and Eva Mae LeFevre circa 1958

Urias LeFevre was a guitar playing, lead singer, who with younger brother Alphus and older sister Maude became the original LeFevre Trio. As youngsters the LeFevre Trio performed in public as early as the 1920s. As the group’s personnel changed through the years their name changed to The LeFevres and the family group would go on to influence southern gospel music for decades. 

The LeFevre children were brought up in a family influenced by music stretching back through several generations. Urias and Alphus were taught to play instruments as youngsters and when they started singing publically in 1921 they were proficient musicians. The LeFevre family lived in Smithville, Tennessee and before long word spread about the talented two boys. People especially enjoyed their instrumental music but once the brothers added their voices and brought Maude’s singing into the mix the beautifully blended trio’s local popularity grew even more. It was about this time that the trio decided to focus on performing exclusively gospel music.

While Urias was in college in the late 1920s, his singing career took a more organized direction. Once younger brother Alphus joined him at the Bible Training School of the Church of God in Sevierville, Tennessee (now Lee University), the harmonizing brothers became the anchoring members of the Bible Training School Quartet Number Two, a group who often traveled the region as ambassadors representing the college. “The Bible Training School quartet was very smooth,” Alphus said many years later. “We had teamwork down to perfection, and we could sing acapella or do counterpoint.”

In 1934 Urias married Eva Mae Whittington, the daughter of a well known Church Of God evangelistic preacher, and the group’s musical destiny changed forever. Eva Mae was a talented, gregarious, 17- year old piano playing alto who became the third member of the trio, replacing the LeFevre brothers’ sister, Peggy, who had replaced Maude. For the next several decades, absent periodic off-the-road lapses for maternity leave, Eva Mae was the group’s favorite public personality and driving energy force. Urias’ strong voice gave the group depth and direction and Eva Mae’s alto was the perfect complement.

 The depression years were tough on The LeFevre Trio. At one point Urias and Eva Mae had to sell their furniture to keep the trio on the road. They were one of the few groups that did not breakup during the depression. During the deepest part of the depression, the LeFevres became one of many traveling, songbookselling; performing representatives of the long- established James D. Vaughan Music Company. Money was so scarce in those days that even the valued link serving as Vaughan ambassadors sometimes failed to resolve their financial challenges. When the group accepted an offer by Vaughan to go on salary, they moved to Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, and worked in the printing office during the week and go out to sing on weekends. As the depression dragged on into 1937 the LeFevres moved to Charleston, South Carolina where they landed on a radio show and would often sing for their home church. During those lean years Urias sold cars and would occasionally teach voice lessons to help make ends meet. 

Having survived the depression, with Urias as the force behind the business side of things, the LeFevre families moved to Atlanta in 1939. Once in Georgia their prospects soon changed for the better. The group landed an early morning spot on WGST radio, a ten-thousand-watt station that reached several states. In 1940 they made several transcription recordings that were distributed to various radio stations in the region and one particular song, Beautiful Flowers, sold fifty-thousand copies in ten days in the Atlanta market alone. With the exception of a few years in the early 1950s when they relocated to Philadelphia, Atlanta would serve as the group’s primary home base from then on. In Atlanta several career related business enterprises were established, including; the Gospel Singing Caravan and The LeFevre Family Show television shows, ownership of a state-of-the-art recording studio, and their own building.

The world changed on December 7, 1941 and so did life for the LeFevres. The group was literally singing live on WGST radio when the announcer broke into the program and announced that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor.  Like millions of young men and women, Urias and Alphus were called into military service, Urias serving in the Army. 

Urias handled the group’s business affairs and emceed their concerts until he was called to serve in WWII. The war took a heavy toll on Urias’ nerves so after returning from war duty the emcee role was taken-up by Eve Mae. Somehow Eve Mae managed to hold the group together during the war with various personnel filling in while Urias and Alphus were away. 

With Urias back at the helm, The LeFevre’s flourished in the post WWII years, releasing a string of recordings and keeping up a healthy concert schedule.  As the 1950s gave way to the 1960s, the talented children of Urias and Eva Mae became old enough to join The LeFevre’s and they carried on as part of Southern Gospel music’s upper echelon. 

Urias was an old-fashioned, principled man who believed treating others with respect was the most important thing. As the years passed, age eventually took its toll, with Urias being the first original member to retire, leaving the road in 1973.  Urias was posthumously inducted into the Southern Gospel Music Association’s Hall of Fame in 1997, joining heaven’s gospel caravan on August 21, 1979 at the age of 69. 

Additional note of interest:  

Besides being a sharp businessman, Urias had a pilot’s license, actively flying the LeFevre’s in their private plane, plus he was a marvelous cook. 

See additional GMA Hall of Fame entries for: Eva Mae LeFevre, Alphus LeFevre, The LeFevres. Meurice LeFevre, Mylon LeFevre

Content written by GMA Hall of Fame staff member Jon Robberson Sr. with excerpts from The Music Men by Bob Terrell and source contributions by SGHistory.com and the LeFevre family. (March 2021). 

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