The Gospel Music of Elvis Presley

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Elvis Presley’s recordings of gospel music are some of the most beautiful and influential of his career. Join us as we explore the history and legacy of Elvis Presley’s gospel music.

Elvis’s musical roots

Elvis Presley’s love for music started at an early age. He was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, on January 8, 1935. Elvis was exposed to a variety of music styles, including gospel, blues, and country. All of these genres would eventually play a role in his unique musical style.

Elvis’s family and musical background

Elvis Presley was born on January 8, 1935, in Tupelo, Mississippi. He and his twin brother, Jesse Garon, were born prematurely. Elvis’s mother took him home from the hospital because she was too poor to afford the hospital bills for both babies. The twins were born into a very religious family. Elvis’s mother and father were both gospel fans and sang in their church choir. His grandfather was a Baptist minister.

Elvis grew up surrounded by gospel music. He often went to hear live gospel performances with his family. He sang in his local church choir and was later influenced by the style of black gospel music. When he was ten years old, Elvis’s family moved from Tupelo to Memphis, Tennessee. In Memphis, Elvis attended Humes High School, where he met some other musicians who would later be famous, including Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis.

After high school, Elvis began working as a truck driver for Crown Electric Company. He also continued to pursue his love of music by performing in talent shows and spending time at Sun Records Studios. It was there that he met music producer Sam Phillips, who helped him launch his career in the world of rock ‘n’ roll.

The music Elvis grew up listening to

Elvis grew up listening to gospel music and it had a profound influence on him. He was especially fond of the harmonies and the way the voices blended together. He once said, “Gospel music is the purest form of American music and I am proud to have been a part of it.”

As a child, Elvis would often sing gospel songs with his family at home and at church. He was also exposed to gospel music on the radio and at live concerts. He saw some of the most famous gospel singers of his day perform, including Mahalia Jackson, Clara Ward, and The Fairfield Four.

All of this exposure to gospel music had a big impact on Elvis’s own singing style. He often incorporated elements of gospel into his secular recordings, and he even recorded entire albums of gospel songs. Some of his most popular recordings in this genre include “How Great Thou Art” and “Amazing Grace.”

Elvis’s love for gospel music continued throughout his life. In his last years, he recorded an album with the legendary Gospel group The Staples Singers. This album, titled “Amazing Grace,” was released posthumously and became one of the best-selling gospel albums of all time.

Elvis’s gospel recordings

Elvis Presley recorded several gospel albums throughout his career. His first album of gospel music was “Peace in the Valley”, which was released in 1957. Since then, Elvis has released multiple gospel albums, such as “How Great Thou Art”, “He Touched Me”, and “Amazing Grace”. Elvis’s gospel recordings are some of the most popular and well-known recordings in all of gospel music.

Elvis’s early gospel recordings

Elvis’s earliest gospel recordings were made when he was a young teenager. In 1953, Elvis made his first recordings for Sun Records, which included the single “My Happiness”/”That’s When Your Heartaches Begin”. These were non-commercial recordings, and no copies are known to exist.

In 1954, Elvis recorded two songs at Sun Studios for a possible release on the Favorite Gospel Songs album by Lionel Hampton. The first was “I’m Gonna Walk Dem Golden Stairs”, which was later released on the 1957 EP Peace in the Valley; the second was “Take My Hand, Precious Lord”, which was released on a different album in 1959. Neither of these tracks were included on Hampton’s album.

In 1955, Elvis recorded four tracks at Sam Phillip’s Memphis Recording Service, which would later be released on the 1957 LP Peace in the Valley: “I’m Counting on You”, “I Was Born About Ten Thousand Years Ago”, “Milky White Way”, and “We Call On Him”. In 1956, he recorded four more tracks at Sun Studios: “Just a Little Talk With Jesus”, “Saved”, “‘He Knows Just What I Need'”, and “‘Suppose’.” These tracks were all included on the 1957 EP Peace in the Valley.

Elvis’ next recording session wouldn’t occur until November 1960, when he recorded eight gospel songs in Nashville for his first full-length gospel album, His Hand in Mine. The album featured several traditional gospel standards, as well as two new compositions by Russ Garcia: “I’d Rather Have Jesus” and “Where No One Stands Alone”. The former would become one of Elvis’ most beloved gospel songs, and would be featured prominently in many of his live performances throughout his career.

“How Great Thou Art”

“How Great Thou Art” is a gospel song written in 1885 by Englishman Stuart K. Hine. The song was first recorded by George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows during their radio show Songs of Faith in 1953. The song became one of the most recorded songs in the history of Christian music with versions by over 700 artists. Elvis Presley recorded a cover version of the song in 1966 that became a hit, reaching number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and becoming a standard in his concert repertoire.

Elvis’s gospel albums

Elvis Presley’s gospel recordings are some of the most revered and influential in the history of American music. Though he is best known for his work in rock and roll, Presley was a devout Christian and his religious convictions informed much of his later work, including his legendary gospel albums.

Elvis’s first gospel album was released in 1956, just a year after he exploded onto the music scene with his debut LP. Titled Peace in the Valley, the record featured a mix of traditional hymns and spirituals, as well as original compositions by Presley himself. It was a massive success, reaching #1 on the Billboard charts and cementing Elvis’s status as a force to be reckoned with in both the secular and sacred music worlds.

In 1960, Elvis released his second gospel album, His Hand in Mine. The record was another critical and commercial hit, reaching #13 on the Billboard charts and further solidifying Elvis’s reputation as a master of multiple musical genres. His Hand in Mine featured several more original songs alongside well-known hymns like “In the Garden” and “Amazing Grace.”

Elvis would go on to release two more gospel albums during his lifetime: How Great Thou Art (1967) and He Touched Me (1972). Both were immensely successful, with How Great Thou Art winning a Grammy Award for Best Sacred Performance (vocal or instrumental) and He Touched Me earning gold certification from the Recording Industry Association of America.

Today, Elvis’s gospel recordings remain some of his most beloved works among fans and critics alike. They are a testament to his talent, versatility, and deep faith, and they continue to inspire musicians across genres and generations.

The impact of Elvis’s gospel music

Elvis Presley’s gospel music had a profound impact on American culture. It helped to shape the sound of popular music and influenced many of the artists who came after him. Elvis’s gospel music also had a spiritual impact on those who heard it. It was a source of comfort and inspiration for many people.

Elvis’s gospel music legacy

Elvis’s gospel recordings are some of the most important in the history of popular music. They helped to break down the barriers between white and black music, and between secular and religious music. Elvis’s gospel music also had a significant impact on the development of rock and roll.

Elvis’s first gospel recordings were made for his film, “The Singing Kid.” The songs he recorded for the film, “He Knows Just What I Need” and “Swing Down, Sweet Chariot,” were both hits. Elvis’s next gospel recording was released as a single, “Peace in the Valley.” The single was a huge hit, reaching number one on the Billboard charts.

Elvis’s gospel recordings were not just commercial successes; they were also critical acclaim. His album, “How Great Thou Art,” won a Grammy Award for Best Sacred Performance. Elvis’s gospel music continues to inspire and entertain people all over the world.

The influence of Elvis’s gospel music

Elvis Presley’s gospel music has had a profound impact on the spiritual lives of many people. His music was a vehicle through which he could express his deep faith and love for God. Elvis’s gospel songs touched the hearts of millions of people and continue to inspire and encourage people today.

Elvis’s gospel music was an important part of his life and career. He began singing gospel songs as a young boy in his church choir. He continued to sing gospel music throughout his career, recording several albums of gospel songs. Elvis’s heartfelt renditions of these songs communicated his genuine faith and love for God.

Elvis’s gospel music had a significant impact on the development of rock and roll. His recordings of spirituals, such as “Peace in the Valley” and “Amazing Grace”, introduced religious themes into popular music. Elvis’s willingness to fuse different genres of music helped to create a more open-minded attitude towards religion in the early days of rock and roll.

Elvis’s gospel music continues to be popular today. His recordings have been reissued, and new compilations of his gospel recordings are released regularly. Elvis’s spiritual legacy continues to inspire and encourage people of all faiths.

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