Why Bev Shea matters

My thoughts on the Graham soloist’s lesser known legacy.

Whereas Graham’s fame was—and is and will always be—a product of his preaching, Shea brought an independently established reputation as a professionally successful gospel singer to his work on the Crusades. So the international fame he achieved as Graham’s soloist was, in its own way, wider (though not necessarily deeper) than Graham’s. That’s because, while Graham had faithful followers, Shea had product-buying fans.

[snip]

In short, Shea helped the worshiping faithful understand the purchasing power of Christian consumers as an extension of their piety, as form of devotional practice that encompassed the ordinary pleasures of music entertainment.

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