Kansas City – February 17-20, 2016 Kansas City, Missouri – February 16, 2016 – The I’ll Fly Away Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving a child’s life through music and launched in honor of Albert E. Brumley who in 1932 wrote the most recorded song of all time, “I’ll Fly Away,” will attend this year’s 28th Folk Alliance International Conference in Kansas City, Missouri February 17-20, 2016. The I’ll Fly Away Foundation is the non-profit foundation of the legendary Brumley Music Company and is dedicated to creating opportunities which foster music education and preserving the country’s rich music history.
Our Northwest Arkansas Connection
The Brumley family has been a part of Northwest Arkansas since the Civil War. They framed the land and helped establish what are currently Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley.
Albert was born in Spiro Ok in 1905. Ok was still considered Indian Country at the time. He worked the family farm until he learned he had a knack for putting words together. He decide when he was 19 he wanted to learn music. So he walked the 26 miles from Spiro OK to Hartford AR so he could learn all about music. Hartford AR was a Mecca for Gospel music during the 1920’s and 30’s. Albert learned at the right hand of EM Bartlett who owned the Hartford Music Institute. In fact, it was Bartlett who gave Albert a chance. He let Albert sleep on his couch because he could not afford the tuition to attend the Institute. Albert in turn had to work for Bartlett after graduation.
He did work for Bartlett composing over 100 songs for the Hartford Music Company, one being “I’ll Fly Away”. He worked for Hartford Music Company until 1944 when he formed Albert E Brumley and Sons Music Publishers and worked for himself. In 1948 Albert was able to purchase the Hartford Music Company so he could get his old copyrights back and own all his work.
In the 1950’s Albert would bring his 5 boys to the Benton County Courthouse and they would play music every Saturday on the steps. He held singing schools and gave concerts in the area for many years.
In 1969, Albert his sons Bill and Bob decided to hold a big all night gospel sing event and they decided to hold it in Springdale AR at the Parson’s Rodeo Arena the first Saturday in August. They invited 6 of the top Gospel artists to perform and they did indeed sing until 5 am the next morning. They did this for the first 3 years until the Sing grew to 3 nights. Then they stopped the show at 2 am.
The Brumley Gospel Sing grew each year going from 1 night to 4 nights. Each year 40,000+ would brave the elements to enjoy the great gospel music. There wasn’t an empty hotel room with in a 50-mile radius of Springdale/Fayetteville. Rogers would hold their annual Crazy Days sale, The Northwest Arkansas malls had sidewalk sales and the restaurants would over flow with people. All in all, the Brumley event would bring in about 7 million dollars in revenue in 4 days to the Northwest Arkansas area.
It is time for a new Brumley event to bring our area together once again. The Shindig is a 1-day event in October, but we plan to make it a multi-day event celebrating Northwest Arkansas as a whole.
The Brumley family has always lived and worked here in Northwest Arkansas and McDonald County, Missouri. We consider this our home. This is where our friends and neighbors live. Even though most of our work takes us to Nashville and we spend most of the year on the road, Northwest Arkansas is the place we can come home to and feel like we belong to a community.
Because Northwest Arkansas has given so much to us, we wanted to begin our giving back here. Giving scholarships and providing entertainment for the community is a way we can use our expertise to help further the cooperative spirit. The I’ll Fly Away Foundation is committed to those who share our Northwest Arkansas community.
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