Sherrill (Shaun) Nielsen Dies, Toured With Elvis Presley, Was Amazing Gospel Singer

Word comes that the truly lifting voice of Sherrill (Shaun) Nielsen has passed away.  The news comes from Donnie Sumner, nephew of famed J.D. Sumner, that  Sherrill (Shaun) Nielsen died at about 11:00 A.M. Friday.  For Elvis fans, or those who enjoy gospel music, the name of Nielsen is one that can bring a smile from a memory of a song or note that sent shivers up your spine.  Nielsen was that good. 

Though one always hates to lose the singers that bring such joy we are fortunate to never be far from a recording that brings it all back through our speakers.

If you are not aware of Sherrill (Shaun) Nielsen then this post is a must read.  You need to know this voice.

In 1961, because of Dad Speer’s health problems, the Singing Speer Family asked Sherrill to join their group.  Sherrill, at that time, was singing with the Songfellows Quartet from Los Angeles, CA. Sherrill was excited at the  prospect of singing with the legendary Singing Speer Family, a group that were members of the Nazarene  Church in Montgomery, AL, where Sherrill and his grandparents attended when he was just a small boy.
Little did Sherrill know that this was the stepping stone to his legendary career (some 50 plus years). While he was with the Singing Speer Family, Jake Hess approached Sherrill about singing tenor for a group that he was planning to organize. In 1963, Sherrill became a member of the legendary Jake Hess and the Imperials Quartet. He traveled with the Imperials until the spring of 1966 where he returned to California and the Songfellows.
In 1967, he joined the Plainsmen Quartet in Baton Rouge, LA. In 1970, Sherrill moved to Atlanta, GA to join the Hovie Lister and the sensational Statesmen Quartet.
In 1973, Sherrill took a new direction by moving to Nashville, TN to organize a gospel group that opened the show for Elvis Presley. Elvis’ love for Sherrill’s tenor voice and gospel music led him to claim the group as his own and Elvis named the group VOICE (after a name he saw on the cover of a religious periodical). According to Felton Jarvis, Elvis’ producer, Sherrill was Elvis’ favorite singer. In 1977, Elvis and Sherrill’s duet, “Softly As I Leave You” was nominated for a Grammy as duet of the year. Sherrill stayed with Elvis until Elvis’ death in 1977.

6 thoughts on “Sherrill (Shaun) Nielsen Dies, Toured With Elvis Presley, Was Amazing Gospel Singer

  1. David Matthews

    God Bless U Sherrill Nielsen, Now U get to reunite in Heaven with the greatest Singer/Entertainer and the Greatest Icon of all Time = Elvis Presley, and the World’s Lowest Bass Singer and the biggest Legend in Gospel Music History = J.D. Sumner………R.I.P. My Friend!!!

  2. Dear ones,
    My dear friend Sherrill Nielsen passed away on Friday, December 10, 2010.
    I met Sherrill’Shaun’Nielsen and his wife Brenda for the first time on a performance
    in Zaffelaere, near Ghent, Belgium at the end of 2004 That is where we decided
    to start with a Gospel Album. The first album “Jerry Deewood sings with and from
    Shaun Nielsen” was released in 2006 at the premises of the fabulous Sun Studio,
    Memphis, Tennessee, where all recordings took place. The album hit all major
    websites worldwide and even became a 7 months long Top 20 Favorite and a
    Hot Top CD Review of the Southern Gospel News, a worldauthority. Not long afterwards,
    a new album was realized in the Kelley road Studio, Memphis Tenn. and released in 2010.
    This album almost got the same title as the first but we added “& Friends. Again the
    album was good for a worldwide interest and in an amazing good interview on
    ‘Blues Again’, I clearly stated that Sherrill had a major influence on my singing career
    if not THE major influence. Each album was good for 7 songs of Sherrill and one
    song from myself. So, we spent a lot of time together, in spite of his many obligations
    and performances in the States and in Europe. On this occasions he performed as a
    duo with his devoted wife Brenda.
    It was a real pleasure to see how we figured out what must be done. As we got further
    into association I experienced Sherrill as a man with a great sense of humour, giving
    so much and never asking something back, but most of all I knew him as a brother in
    arms. That’s what we really were: brothers in arms, for the good music from rock over
    blues to gospel and for the good cause.
    So, I’m asking myself over and over again: Sherrill why do you have to leave us so soon?
    I know for sure, that I’m gonna miss you for the rest of my days. May the music we
    made together, and the songs we sang together, be your legacy for all those who understand.
    Your devoted friend,
    Jerry Deewood Bruges BELGIUM EUROPE

  3. Perhaps Ray Walker of The Jordanaires said it best: “Sherrill Nielsen has made his mark on the Gospel Field and on the Commercial Field, as well. Sherrill’s heart went into everything he did. His association with Elvis was a highlight in both their lives. Elvis enjoyed and respected Sherrill’s heart, artistry and his willingness to share with him and others. Sherrill was one of the good guys.” Sherrill was always a joy to work with in the recording studio – a true professional; a legendary singer and performer. Listening to the many records we made together over the years, one quickly comes to realize that Sherrill Nielsen was truly a one-of-a-kind, special entertainer. Professionally, none will ever compare to Sherrill. As his producer/manager for many years, I am a witness to the fact that he was simply the best of the best. I know that he was Elvis’ favorite singer and from personal experience I know that he was one of the “good guys.” But, after all the years we spent together, the memory I will always cherish most is of Sherrill as a person; his unwavering loyalty and dedication; his support of loved ones and friends, of which I am proud and honored to say I was one.

  4. Jim Stephens

    Wow what can you say about an amazing voice!! My name is Jim Stephens and I owned Aim High Productions in Atlanta in the late eighties and had the pleasure of being Sean booking agent. He was one of a kind and a hell of a golfer. What a great friend I will miss him. He was an amazing talent!!! Rip Sean God Bless You!!!

  5. Mf

    I met Shaun while tuning Brenda’s piano a couple of weeks before they got married the second time. He gave me a photo of he and Elvis and autographed it for me. He told me personal stories about the Southern Gospel groups as well as some of Elvis and intimated that Elvis was one of the best human beings he had ever known. He told me about the reasons he and Brenda split and how he never got over her. Though I have worked in the music business in various functions and had conversations with many famous musicians, the conversation with Shaun that day is among the most memorable. And that photo of he and Elvis are among my most prized possessions. Rest in peace.

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