Back in the early 1930s when radio was relatively new to people in the rural areas, the demand for radio programs was quite high. Hence, people working in this field were pressed to come up with contents suited for radios as sources of entertainment. Also, gospel music programs were among the favorites of radio fanatics during this period. Albert Edward Brumley, who later became a celebrated gospel songwriter, admitted having experienced such pressure. At that time, he frequently received calls from people and heard them say the following line,
“Turn your radio on, Albert, they’re singing one of your songs on such-and-such a station.”
Brumley reached to a point of using the phrase “Turn your radio on” as a theme for a spiritual-coined tune. Hence, in 1937, he wrote the song “Turn Your Radio On” as we all know today. His composition appeared on publication the following year.
Albert E. Brumley (Oct. 29, 1905 – Nov. 15, 1977) is best remembered as one of the greatest gospel songwriters of all time. He’s written numerous songs that many country music artists loved to cover. Among them were Roy Acuff, Red Foley, Webb Pierce, Louvin Brothers, Jim Reeves and Elvis Presley. At a young age, he began learning to play the organ and would soon be studying at the Hartford Musical Institute at Hartford, Arkansas. Although he has started singing in a quartet, he never made it to singing as a solo due to his shyness. And so in the early ‘90s, he concentrated on songwriting.
His composition “I’ll Fly Away” was published in the book of Hartford Music Company entitled The Wonderful Message. The publishing company would soon ask for more songs from Brumley. In no time, all the major gospel singing groups began covering his tunes. “Jesus Hold My Hand”, “I’ll Meet You In The Morning“, “If We Never Meet Again“, “He Set Me Free” and “Nobody Answered Me” are some of the songs he composed that became famous. When the Nashville Songwriters’ Hall Of Fame opened in 1970, Brumley became one of the first inductees. Moreover, he became a member of the Gospel Music Hall Of Fame in 1972.
Featured in the video below singing the song are Ben Speer, Sue Dodge, Joy Gardner, Ann Downing, and Candy Hemphill Christmas.
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