The Blackwood Brothers quartet took the stage at Lisa Marie Presley’s memorial service at Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee, on Sunday, and performed two selections, “How Great Thou Art” and “Sweet, Sweet Spirit,” per the family’s request.
“First, it was an honor for us to be there and to be able to sing,” Jim Rogers told ET’s Kevin Frazier following the ceremony. “Those songs were requested by some of the family.”
The gospel quartet’s performance of “How Great Thou Art” was not only a tribute to Lisa Marie, but also to her father, Elvis Presley, as that was one of his favorite hymns.
“‘How Great Thou Art’ was one of the songs that he’d done just about every show,” Rogers noted. “It was always something that was very special. Also, ‘The Sweet, Sweet Spirit,’ was another one that [Elvis] just loved, and loved the harmonies of it. And like I said, it was an honor for us to be here and be part of this.”
Eric Walker shared his bandmate’s sentiments, adding, “It was an honor and a privilege to be invited to her memorial service, something I never thought we’d be involved with. It was quite the honor.”
The Blackwood Brothers is comprised of Rogers, Walker, Jonathan Mattingly and Billy Blackwood, whose father, James Blackwood Sr., founded the group in the 1930s.
During Lisa Marie’s memorial service, Billy Blackwood spoke about his family’s history with the Presleys, which began with Elvis’ love for his father’s group. He recalled the moment Elvis introduced him and his dad to a newborn Lisa Marie in 1968.
“My dad hung up and said, ‘Elvis wants to introduce me to his baby girl. Do you want to go with me?'” he shared. “And I said, ‘Of course.’ So we came out here, parked, and we’re ushered into the foyer. In a little bit, Elvis came down the steps holding Lisa in his arms. He said, ‘Mr. Blackwood, this is my little girl, Lisa Marie.'”
“He said, ‘Lisa, this is Mr. Blackwood, one of my heroes.’ I stood there in awe and transfixed, kind of taking in the moment,” he added.
Billy Blackwood said his father performed at the funeral of Lisa Marie’s grandmother and Elvis’ mother, Gladys Presley, and shared that the quartet came together to sing at Elvis’ funeral as well. He shared that being at Graceland for Lisa Marie’s funeral was a somber, full-circle moment.
“This is kind of full circle,” Billy Blackwood said as he got choked up. “We are so honored to be here and to be part of Lisa’s celebration today.”
He continued, “There’s a song that Elvis had often sung at his concerts. He actually didn’t sing it. He would listen as The Imperials, and later The Stamps, would sing this song. He would ask the audience just to be quiet and listen. And as this song was sung, a holy hush would fill the auditoriums.”
Before singing, Billy Blackwood shared his wish for the attendees at the memorial service and Lisa Marie’s family.
“Our prayers that that same holy hush would fill this place today,” he said. “And Priscilla, Riley, Finley and Harper, our hearts are with you. We’re all here today because we love your family. You’re in our thoughts and prayers. May this song be the ushering in of God’s peace and presence in your life, we pray.”
Lisa Marie died following a cardiac arrest on Jan. 12. She was 54.
In addition to The Blackwood Brothers, Billy Corgan, Alanis Morissette and Axl Rose all honored Lisa Marie in song during the public memorial service.
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