Ila Knight

Southern Gospel singer & songwriter

A Small Bit Of History

My mother came from a family of gospel singers who attended the old time "Singing Schools" and learned to sing by shape notes. She and her brothers had a quartet that people came from all over to hear. I can still hear my Uncle Ralph as he gave the pitch something like this: "Do, so, me re, do, me." Anyone who can sing the shape notes will be able to sing these very notes I have written here. I have a tape that was made in the early 50's of them singing this "old time" way.

I began singing in small local churches when I was but a small child. On my 10th birthday, my parents bought a used upright piano for me. My younger brother and I both made a "high dive" for it when we came home from school. A fight erupted and Mother wouldn't let either one of us play that piano until the next day. Within a couple of months I was playing at the church and my brother and sister (who were 3 and 4 years younger than me) and I were singing wherever we went. Mother took us to the "Singing Conventions" which were held every week in the various courthouses, schools and churches. We competed in the 4-H Talent shows (we won), and any other place they would let a bunch of kids sing. Mother was a great believer in reading the music and in playing the piano exactly by the notes. She was always on to me, yet, the very minute she left the house, whether to go milk the cow or whatever she might be doing, I would start playing Down Yonder just like Dale Wood played it on the Grand Old Opry (certainly I tried). In 1998, I was privileged to attend and complete the Stamps Baxter School of Music and I hope one day to return.

At the age of 14, I was singing with a trio called The Parker Trio and traveling around Asheville with an unknown group called the Kingsmen. We went to all the courthouse convention singings and the different churches that had a regular singing once a month on Sunday nights. Eldrige Fox became a dear friend and I miss him so. He called at least once a week after he had his stroke and we had a grand time just keeping up with the latest or simply reminiscing about old times.

There was a guy by the name of Ray Dean Reece that I had a terrific crush on. He sang with another group that showed up at all the important singings. He came out to see me a couple of times but my mother made him sit in the living room where she could watch him.

What a time we had during an era that is forever gone. I would that our children and grand children could have known the joy of looking through the new Stamps Baxter song books and trying the new songs that were in it.

In 1970 I wrote my first song called I'll Be In The Rapture. The Inspirations came up to my house in the middle of the night and learned the song and recorded it the very next night. The Florida Boys picked it up and it was in the top 20 charts. Being the country girl that I was, I didn't even know what a chart was. There are many in the industry that have helped me along including Martin Cook, Eldrige Fox and Les Beasley. I thank them all.

My biggest song has been I'll Live Again, nominated for Song of the Year in 1999. Also, The First Look, (Top 40 Singing News 1974), The Redeemed Are Coming Home, Move On Up, What A Morning, Jesus Is All That I Need, I'll Sail Away, I Have Been Redeemed, I'll Be in The Rapture. Quite a few chart songs over the years.

I currently am employed by the Inspirations Quartet as a copyright/Licensing Administrator. I also have a solo ministry and I so enjoy going to the various churches to sing. God has richly blessed me. How I thank Him for giving me a Mother and Dad who loved singing so much.

God Bless you ALL!
Ila Knight

PS: My songs have been recorded by: The Inspirations Quartet, The Florida Boys, Paid in Full, Jody Brown Indian Family, The Hopper Brothers and Connie, The Blackwood Brothers, the Kingsmen, The Isaacs, and others too numerous to mention.

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