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Biography

Rev. F.W. McGee (Ford Washington McGee, Winchester, Tennessee, October 5, 1890 - April 8, 1971) was an American gospel singer. He recorded "Fifty Miles of Elbow Room" which appears on The Anthology Of American Folk Music.

McGee was raised in Hillsboro, Texas. Married at 20, he embarked on a teaching career in Oklahoma. In 1918, he joined Rev. Charles H. Mason's Memphis-based Church of God in Christ and had completely abandoned teaching in favor of preaching by 1920, leading revival meetings in Kansas and Iowa. He built a congregation in Oklahoma City with the help of blind singer/pianist Arizona Dranes. By 1925, McGee had established congregations in Chicago.

In 1926, Arizona Dranes made her first recordings for Okeh Records. Needing backup singers for the date, she recruited McGee and his Jubilee Singers. The following year, McGee (mistakenly credited as "F.N. McGee") made his debut recordings as a leader, recording both songs and sermons. A few months later, McGee switched to Victor where he recorded several big selling records (one title selling an estimated 100,000 copies). With his increasing fame as a recording artist, McGee's congregation grew and he was able to build his own church in Chicago. With the coming of the Depression, McGee's recording career was cut short, his last recording date being held in New York City on June 16, 1930. It was at this session that he recorded "Fifty Miles of Elbow Room" which appears on The Anthology Of American Folk Music.
His recording career behind him, McGee concentrated on his preaching and remained an active member of his church communities in both Chicago and New York until his death in Chicago, Illinois, April 8, 1971.

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