Albert Brumley Itinerary
Pivotal Christian & gospel composer Albert E. Brumley realized his true passion and musical talent during his childhood in Oklahoma. Tour through Rock Island, where Brumley picked cotton on his family’s farm, inspiring imagery that appears in many of his gospel tunes. Then, head to Spiro, his birthplace, before seeing the Oklahoma halls of fame where he was inducted. Brumley fans can also stop by the Mabee Center in Tulsa - where the annual Brumley Gospel Sing is held - before finishing the grand tour in Vinita, where Brumley devised the official game plan for the first Gospel Sing.
Rock Island, OK
Stop 1: Rock Island, OK
Brumley’s family made the move to Rock Island once they were able to give up their sharecropping lifestyle to purchase their own cotton farm. Here, Brumley attended public school and participated in community-wide gospel music events.
“Well, I can remember when we first moved to Rock Island, the school attendance was around 50. When we moved away from there in 1925, after all these singings that we had, we had about 150 enrolled there in that little school there,” Brumley said. “And that was just a rural community, understand, no town at all. Just a railroad crossing, one store, no filling station because they didn’t have filling stations much back then, a post office, and a depot was about all we had there. But the population increased about threefold in the five years that I lived there, and I think it was because Rock Island was noted for a singing community with a lot of singing activity.”
Stop 2: Spiro, OK
Brumley was born in Indian Territory near present-day Spiro. He recalled flooding river banks threatening his family during his early years here. He and his family spent this segment of their life picking cotton as sharecroppers, an experience that inspired future song lyrics.
Stop 3: Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame
In 1998, Brumley was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame along with Gene Autry, Jay McShann and David Gates. He was part of the second class of musicians to be inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame.
Stop 4: Tulsa Mabee Center
Since 2016, Tulsa’s Mabee Center has hosted the annual four-day Brumley Gospel Sing, bringing in 20,000 audience members. With humble beginnings where Brumley and fellow organizer J.D. Sumner earned a mere $50 profit, Brumley Gospel Sing has since grown into one of the most successful gospel music festivals in the world.
Stop 5: Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame
Among his eight Hall of Fame inductions, Brumley was inducted into two Oklahoma Halls of Fame, including the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame. In 2013, Brumley joined the ranks of other legendary Oklahoma jazz musicians as a gospel musician inductee.
Stop 6: Vinita, OK
It was during a co-op meeting in Vinita that Brumley came up with the idea for the Brumley Gospel Sing. After speaking with gospel singer J.D. Sumner, the two decided to host an all-night gospel sing in Springdale, Arkansas in 1969. The original one-day Albert E. Brumley Sundown to Sunup Singing event has since transformed into today’s four-day Brumley Gospel Sing.