Country Music Singer. He received international acclaim for his rich baritone voice that produced award-winning country songs. Professionally nicknamed “Gentleman Jim,” he had aspirations of becoming a baseball player. He started in the semipro circuit with the Houston Buffaloes for three years before playing with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1944 as a right-handed pitcher. In 1947 his career ended with a leg injury, thus he turned to singing and being a dis jockey at the Shreveport, Louisiana radio station KWKH, which broadcast the country music show the Louisiana Hayride. In 1953 his breakthrough single was “Mexican Joe;” the same year he officially joined the cast of the Louisiana Hayride; in 1954 his song “Bimbo” hit #1 on the US Country Charts; and by October 1955 was a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Starting his career with a loud, East Texas sound, he made the transition to a much more softer, romantic-sound balladeer with such classic country songs as ”Home,” “Am I Losing You?,” “Blue Boy,” and his Platinum Record hit, “He'll Have to Go.” Hitting #1 on both Country and Pop Charts, his version of “Four Walls” became a crossover success in both genre. He was part of bringing country-western music to the country-pop era. He toured every state in the United States. During the 1960s, he also toured extensively throughout the world from the British Isles, South Africa, India, European countries and the Scandinavian countries making him one of the first country artists to achieve international stardom. In 1963 he made a second trip to South Africa to accept the main role in his only film, “Kimberley Jim.” He recorded songs in the South African language of Afrikaans. In the Netherlands, three of hits were among radio listener's favorite songs of 2003. In the early 1960s Reeves was the first United States recording artist to sell a Gold record in Norway, and even after his death in 1980s, he received Platinum and Diamond awards for his LP's. He even had an album reach Gold status in Denmark in 1999. The youngest of nine children, James Travis Reeves was called “Travis” as a child. He was the recipient of an athletic scholarship to the University of Texas enrolling in speech and drama, but dropped to join the military in World War II. Failing his military physical with hypertension, he became a welder in the shipyards at Houston before going to baseball. He died when his Beechcraft Debonair, a single engine plane that he was piloting, crashed into a wooden area during a violent thunderstorm killing him and his manager Dean Manual. Less than 10 minutes from their destination, he radioed the Nashville airport that they were flying in an extremely heavy storm. Just minutes later, the control tower radioed to check if he had passed through the storm, but there was no response, thus realizing the plane had gone down. The hit records continued to be released posthumously with songs such as "Is It Really Over?," "Blue Side of Lonesome," and "Missing You.” He also released a collection of Christmas and Gospel songs. In the 1980s electrical-created duets with Patsy Cline and Deborah Allen were successful. According to Billboard Magazine, he had fifty-one Top Ten hits with nineteen after his death. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1967.
Bio by: Linda Davis
If I, a lowly singer dry one tear or soothe one humble human heart in pain, then my homely verse to God is dear and not one stanza has been sung in vain.
Mary Elizabeth White Reeves
1929–1999 (m. 1947)