John Daniel “J.D.” Sumner – Biography

John Daniel “J.D.” Sumner (Nov. 19, 1924-Nov. 16, 1998)

John Daniel “J.D.” Sumner was born in Lakeland, Florida. Sumner was inspired to become a bass singer at the age of eight after hearing Frank Stamps perform. He began developing his talent from that moment.

Sumner served in the military service from 1942 until his discharge in 1945. He began to pursue his dream of being a bass singer when he formed the Sunny Side Quartet. He really began to make a name for himself after joining the Sunshine Boys in 1948.

Sumner/Blackwood Partnership
In 1954, Blackwood Brothers members R. W. Blackwood and Bill Lyles lost their lives in a plane crash. James Blackwood asked Sumner to replace Lyles in the bass slot. When Sumner joined this group his fame began to skyrocket.

Sumner and James Blackwood soon became partners in a number of business ventures that took on a life of their own. In 1956, they formed the National Quartet Convention, an event that Sumner dubbed “the Granddaddy of them all.” They also formed the Gospel Music Association, which recognizes achievement annually in all forms of gospel music.

The two men purchased the Stamps Quartet in 1963. Sumner continued to sing with the Blackwood Brothers for a period of time after this. He ultimately decided to leave the group and sing with the Stamps so he could manage them directly. In time they began to be billed as “J.D. Sumner and the Stamps.”

Elvis Presley
In November of 1971, J.D. Sumner and the Stamps were invited to tour with Elvis Presley. The group became a regular fixture with Presley until his last concert on June 26th, 1977. The Stamps were also featured on most of Presley’s studio recordings between 1972 and 1977. In the midst of their popularity while performing with Presley, the Stamps released what is probably their most critically acclaimed recording, a double LP titled Live At Murray State. The singers joining J.D. Sumner on that recording were Ed Hill, Ed Enoch, and Bill Baize.

Masters V
Sumner disbanded the Stamps in 1980. He then joined Jake Hess, Hovie Lister, Rosie Rosell, and James Blackwood to form the Masters V. This group of “living legends” toured until 1988. Lister served as the group’s emcee while Sumner injected his brand of dry humor into their performances.

Guinness Book Of World Records
In 1983, the Guinness Book Of World Records recognized Sumner’s 1966 solo recording of the hymn “Blessed Assurance.” According to Guinness, the song contained the lowest recorded note ever produced by a human voice, a “double low” C. The recording was re-issued in 1984 as part of Sumner’s solo project Thank God For Kids and again in 1999 posthumously on The Wait Is Over.

Stamps Reborn
After the Masters V disbanded in 1988, Sumner brought back the Stamps with former members Ed Hill and Ed Enoch. In the early 1990s, the Stamps were active participants in the popular Gaither Gospel Series of videos. They also enjoyed a great deal of success performing at Elvis Presley tribute events, both domestically and overseas. Rick Strickland and Jerry Kelso were members of the group during Sumner’s final years.

Sumner passed away on November 16, 1998 in Myrtle Beach, SC. He was on tour at the time of his death.

See also: Stamps Quartet Biography, Stamps Quartet Discography, Stamps Quartet Members

David Bruce Murray

David Bruce Murray is a church music director in Ellenboro, NC. In addition to MusicScribe, David is the owner/editor of and the author of Murray's Encyclopedia Of Southern Gospel Music. He plays piano for Southern Sounds Quartet, the Foothills Choir and when his schedule permits, the Pine Ridge Boys.

%d bloggers like this: