This week’s featured artist is Donnie Sumner. He was raised the son of a minister and is no newcomer to the world of Gospel Music. Since childhood his favorite form of entertainment has been Gospel Music with styles ranging from "Foot-stompin' - hand-clappin' revival tunes" to what has become known in today's market as contemporary sacred music. Having devoted over forty years of his own life to the world of music, Donnie has carried on the tradition of others in his family who have also made their mark in this industry.
Donnie is the nephew of the late J. D. Sumner, nationally acclaimed as the "world's lowest bass singer." Both Donnie and J. D. were closely associated with the late Elvis Presley on both his stage appearances and his recordings. Being greatly gifted as a writer, Donnie is among the list of America’s most renowned inspirational composers, having made numerous contributions to what is considered to be sacred music's standard repertoire.
Donnie's professional career began in the early sixties. In 1965 he became the lead vocalist and arranger for J. D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet and continued in this position for nearly eight years. In 1970, while with the Stamps, Donnie received the Gospel Music Association's prestigious Dove Award for "Gospel Song of the Year" with his composition, "The Night Before Easter." During his tenure of service as a "Stamp," Donnie was also awarded the SESAC Award as "Best Country Songwriter" in 1969 and was nominated in 1970 for a Grammy Award by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Science (NARAS) in the category of "Country Song of the Year for his work entitled "The Things That Matter." During the last three years of Donnie's service with J. D. Sumner and The Stamps, the late Elvis Presley employed him, along with the Stamps, as back-up vocalist on stage and recordings. It was during this time period that Donnie was seen on the Elvis worldwide satellite television spectacular, “Aloha From Hawaii.” Donnie was also afforded the honor of having a solo appearance in the Elvis documentary, “Elvis On Tour” in which he was featured on the gospel song, “The Lighthouse.”
In 1972 Donnie resigned from the Stamps Quartet and organized his own group, which was to become known as Voice Inc. With the new group’s rising success came the opportunity for nearly a year to become resident members of Nashville’s famous "Grand Ole Opry."
Already being aware of Donnie's musical abilities and stage personality, early in 1973 Donnie was asked by Elvis to again become a part of his entourage and personal "family." For the next three years Donnie was a constant houseguest, companion and arranger and associate musician to his friend Elvis. Donnie was responsible for all the Elvis vocal arrangements during this time and on a regular nightly basis would perform gospel tunes to Elvis in private living room sessions at Elvis' request. From time to time Elvis would request that Donnie sing one of his own original love songs. It was from such occasions that Elvis eventually came to record two of Donnie's country songs, "Mr. Song Man" and "I Miss You." Voice Inc., Donnie's group, was the opening act on all Elvis' personal appearances as well as an intrical part of the vocal ensemble performing all of his stage back-up vocals.
Late in 1976, eleven months prior to the death of Elvis, Donnie having undergone a crucial emotional and drug related crisis and a subsequent spiritual new-birth resigned his position with Elvis and became actively involved in the pursuit of a walk with Christ Jesus, which has continued. Having retired from what he refers to as "Show Business," for the next three years Donnie endeavored to create a secular music firm in Nashville, Tennessee, under the banner of Sprit and Associates.
In December of 1979 with the encouragement and blessings of his Pastor, Donnie relinquished his music company to his Brother and business partner and yielded his life and talents to total Christian service and entered into full-time ministry. Having served his denomination as Minister of Music, Evangelist and Pastor, Donnie is presently involved in an inter-faith, multi-media music ministry presenting concerts around the country under the name of Sprit Ministries. Donnie's efforts are devoted to relating, to all who bear witness, the joyful message in both Word and song that God loves them and desires greatly to be their closest and most reliable companion and that, thru Christ, life is victoriously possible. Donnie has several projects available through his web site: www.donniesumner.com.
I can be contacted at (864) 979-9626 or (864) 895-1287.