The Shields Brothers Gospel Singers


The Shields Brothers, a mainstay of Cleveland’s gospel music scene for more than seventy years. 

by Dale Ricardo Shields


Photograph by Allen E. Cole

“There is a silence into which the world can not intrude. There is an ancient peace you carry in your heart and have not lost. There is a sense of holiness in you that the thought of sin has never touched. All this today you will remember.”

{  For my Grandfather and Father…  singing with the Angels  

 “The Shields Brothers began their singing career in 1928.  The group members were Lee Crosby, Arthur Beasley, Arthur Turner, James Henderson, and Claude Shields Sr. (center).”

Cleveland’s premiere gospel quartet for more than seventy years. They paved the way for Black gospel quartet music as we know it today.Together they paved the way for Black gospel quartet music in Ohio.

Their most popular song was When the roll is called in Heaven, I’ll be there.”

 The Shields Brothers included radio personality and promoter, Arthur Turner (second from right) who joined the group in 1930. Arthur Turner was a respected Gospel music promoter who broadcasted on WABQ and WJMO radio stations, beginning a career in broadcasting in 1948.


The Shields Brothers

“The term Gospel quartet refers to several different traditions of harmony singing.  It’s origins can be traced back to slavery; it’s sound, varied, including 4-part hymn singing, shape note singing, jubilee songs, spirituals and gospel songs. Gospel quartets sing in four-part harmonies, a part given to the tenor or highest part; lead, which usually takes the melody and baritone which blends the sounds and adds richness; and the bass, or lowest part.  It’s not uncommon for quartets to switch parts between each member.  But it’s the powerful, colorful, charismatic lead singer that touches the audience and brings life to the gospel quartet’s performance. 

The Shields Brothers were a mainstay of Cleveland’s gospel music for more than seventy years.  The Shields Brothers began singing in 1928.  The members were Lee Crosby, Arthur Beasley, Arthur Turner, James Henderson and Claude Shields Sr. Together they paved the way for black gospel quartet music in Ohio. Their most popular song was, “When the roll is called in heaven, I’ll be there.” The Shields Brothers were frequent guest singers on gospel radio and traveled across the country on the Gospel Quartet circuit; they were known for their sweet harmonious voices. Their uniformity and style became the model for other Cleveland male quartets to pattern themselves after.” – 

Arthur Turner

For 52 years, he managed the Elite Jewels and he was the last original member of the Shields Brothers.  He was also one of the founding members of the Ohio Singers Movement and the Gospel Music Workshop of America (Cleveland Chapter).

“Following the thread of the great gospel soloist, announcers, quartets, choirs, groups, producers, songwriters, photographers, choir directors, ministry leaders, poets, speakers, and artist from Cleveland, Akron, Canton, Youngstown and the surrounding areas; we find our foundation; why we sing and why we’re so brilliant at it.”


The Gospel Music Historical Society is a public charitable foundation whose purpose is to educate, promote and preserve the rich heritage of gospel music. This is done through education, event programming, networking, and workshops. We use our resources to encourage and support the success of GMHS Gospel artist. We raise funds and make gifts and donations in support of the arts, education, literacy, health, welfare and organizations that further our purpose.