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Rev. F.W. McGee - Fifty Miles Of Elbow Room

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Published on Mar 13, 2012

w/ congregation and Arizona Dranes at his last session (take 2)

Expertly blending lively congregational singing with powerful preaching, the Reverend F.W. McGee was among the most popular country gospel performers of the pre-Depression era. Born Ford Washington McGee in Winchester, Tennessee on October 5, 1890, he was raised primarily in Hillsboro, Texas; married at the age of 20, within a year he began a career as a teacher, soon after relocating to Oklahoma. Previously a pastor in a Methodist church, McGee converted to Charles H. Mason's Memphis-based Church of God in Christ in 1918, in part attracted to their more energetic singing style. By 1920 he had largely abandoned teaching to pursue preaching full-time, and through his revival meetings became a crucial figure in the COGIC's encroachment into Kansas and Iowa. He later built a congregation in Oklahoma City with the assistance of the noted sanctified singer/pianist Arizona Dranes; by 1925, McGee had also established the first of two tents in the Chicago area.

- Jason Ankeny
Photos: Gordon Parks, LOC

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