The Shields Brothers Gospel Singers


by Dale Ricardo Shields

“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 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, a mainstay of Cleveland’s gospel music scene for more than seventy years.  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).

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. 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).

The Shields Brothers

1928, Cleveland, OH, United States
Lee R. Crosby (lead vocals, tenor vocals), Arthur Beasley (lead vocals), Arthur Turner (baritone vocals), Claude Shields Sr. (bass vocals)
Also Known As
Shield Brothers

 Claude Shields Sr. owned and operated a dry cleaning company for over forty years under the name of the Shields Brothers Cleaners.

(Johnnie, Claude Jr., John and Claude Shields Sr.)

Johnnie Calloway Shields is the sister of Hattie Lynn King, the mother of fight promoter Don King and the late Joesph Lynn (actor) .


 The Shields Brothers Senior’s last performance (the 1970’s).  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 and sang consistently for 70 years.

Pictured here in the 1940s  with a trophy won in a competition for enunciation, appearance, stage performance, and harmony, The Jubilee Four were a group of two sets of brothers and a neighbor, who began singing together in Cleveland, Ohio in the 1930s.  The group sang together until three of the members were drafted to serve in World War II.  The members included Clifford Phelps, William Phelps, Eugene Ross, Johnny Shields, and Claude Shields Jr.  They were later renamed The Shields Brothers.

The Turner Gospel Singers

In 1949, Claude Shields Jr married Fannie Sanders.  She along with her sister, Frettie Jackson sang with the Turner Gospel Singers under the direction of William Turner.  The union produced two sons, Gerald and Dale. Gerald was drafted into the army and entered the business world.  After completing a Master of Fine Arts in theatre, Dale entered the world of professional theatrical show business and academic theatre. 

Fannie, Dale, Claude and Gerald Shields – 1952

 Friendly Womack,  patriarch of the Womack Brothers sang with The Shields Brothers in the 19 60’s and 1970’s.

The Womack Brothers

(“The Valentinos (also known as The Womack Brothers), was a Cleveland, Ohio-based family R&B group, mainly famous for launching the careers of brothers Bobby Womack and Cecil Womack, the former brother finding bigger fame as a solo artist and the latter finding success as a member of the husband and wife team of Womack & Womack with Linda Cooke. During their 22-year tenure, the group was known for R&B hits such as “Lookin’ for a Love“, famously covered by The J. Geils Band and later a solo hit for Bobby Womack and “It’s All Over Now“, famously covered by The Rolling Stones.”) – Wikipedia

Claude Shields Jr. (1997)


 Claude Shields Jr. received awards at Cleveland State University (2005).


The Gospel Music Historical Society presents a Black Tie Awards Gala; Saturday, November 2, 2019, at the Doubletree by Hilton in Beachwood, Ohio. See GMHS members for tickets and voting ballots.