Sweet Inspirations documentary now available on DVD

This Time-A Music Documentary was released May 31 on DVD. Along with other performers, the independent film includes a look at the Sweet Inspirations – the vocal group that backed Elvis on stage from 1969 through his death in 1977.

This looks like a potential must-have for fellow fans of the Sweet Inspirations.

Visit the official site: This Time – A Music Documentary.

Watch the trailer:

See “Documentary on DVD review: ‘This Time’ A Musical Documentary” — Examiner.com for a review.

In 2010, the world lost two members of the Sweet Inspirations, Sylvia Shemwell and Myrna Smith.

I originally found this item courtesy of elvis4life’s post on the For Elvis CD Collectors forum.

Sweet Inspiration Myrna Smith, 1941-2010

The Sweet Inspirations (1967)

The Sweet Inspirations (1967)

There is more sad news this month. Myrna Smith, a member of the Sweet Inspirations vocal group, has passed away. She was 69.

The Sweet Inspirations backed Elvis on stage from his return to live performances in 1969 through his death in 1977, performing with him in over a thousand concerts. Before becoming an integral part of Elvis’ live show, the Sweets were already a Grammy-winning gospel group that had backed Aretha Franklin, among others. Outside of their time with Elvis, their best known hit as a group was “Sweet Inspiration,” which was released as a single in 1968.

Myrna appears with Elvis in the documentary movies That’s The Way It Is (1970) and Elvis On Tour (1972). She also appears with him in the television specials Aloha From Hawaii (1973) and Elvis In Concert (1977). “They help me get a feeling and get to my soul,” Elvis said of the group in 1969.

She can be heard on the following Elvis albums released during his lifetime:

  • From Memphis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis (Elvis In Person At The International Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada) [1969]
  • On Stage-February 1970 [1970]
  • That’s The Way It Is
  • Worldwide Gold Award Hits, Volume 2 [1971]
  • Elvis As Recorded At Madison Square Garden [1972] (includes Elvis introducing Myrna)
  • Aloha From Hawaii Via Satellite [1973]
  • Elvis (Fool)
  • Elvis Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis [1974]
  • Pure Gold [1975]
  • Elvis: A Legendary Performer, Volume 2 [1976]
  • From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee
  • Welcome To My World [1977]
  • Moody Blue

She also can be heard on countless other Elvis albums released since his death.

She loved Elvis “like a brother”

In a 2005 interview available on Elvis Australia, Myrna shared a special memory of Elvis:

This is when we first met him, y’know. [Elvis] had us up at the penthouse, and he was playing 45s. We were having a little party, a little get-together – drinks at the bar and stuff. [He] came up to me and said, ‘Do you wanna dance?’ It was a slow record. So I said, ‘O.K.’

“And I don’t think that Elvis had ever danced with a black woman before, because he started dancing with me, [and] I felt like just grabbing him and holding him, ’cause his whole body was trembling.

“And, but he was, y’know, he was shy anyway. But all these girls, y’know, that he’d been around, and he’s this macho lover, whatever, and he was [really] just a little boy […] that’s what he was, y’know.

“I looked upon him, a part of my family, like. [W]hen he died and I was screaming, my mother said, ‘He’s not in the family. [Why] are you cry[ing], [why] are you breaking up?’

“Because I love him, he’s like a brother.”

Myrna dated Jerry Schilling, one of Elvis’ best friends, for a number of years. After Elvis’ death, the two married. Schilling went on to manage the Beach Boys, and Myrna co-wrote many of the songs on Beach Boy Carl Wilson’s 1981 self-titled solo album. Her marriage with Schilling ended in 1985 after five years, but the two remained friends.

In recent years, the Sweet Inspirations have continued to record albums and have performed in the Elvis Presley In Concert touring show.

Myrna, thank you for sharing your incredible voice with all of us. You will be missed, but always remembered.

My thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends during this time.

* * *

Sylvia Shemwell, another member of the Sweet Inspirations, passed away earlier this year.

* * *

Additional Research Sources

  • The Elvis Encyclopedia by Adam Victor, Overlook Duckworth, New York, 2008.
  • Elvis Presley: A Life In Music – The Complete Recording Sessions by Ernst Jorgensen, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1998.
  • Me And A Guy Named Elvis: My Lifelong Friendship With Elvis Presley by Jerry Schilling with Chuck Crisafulli, Gotham Books, New York, 2006.
  • ELVIS: His Life From A To Z by Fred Worth and Steve Tamerius, Wings Books, New York, 1992.

Please pray for Myrna Smith

From ElvisMatters:

We’d like to ask […] all the visitors of this website to please pray for Myrna Smith. This is the latest from her friend Carole: “I just […] found out that hospice at West Hills Hospital has been brought in […]. This means that dialysis treatments have been stopped and Myrna will be slowly weaned of the feeding tube. […] It is just a matter of time, but I think it is best for Myrna. Please keep her in your prayers.”

Update on Sweet Inspiration Myrna Smith

Elvis Unlimited yesterday posted an update on Myrna Smith, who provided backing vocals for Elvis from 1969 to 1977 as a member of the Sweet Inspirations. “Myrna continues to be very weak, her health is not good, & she sleeps most of the time. She is still getting dialysis three times a week,” reports the site.

For more information, read the full update on Myrna at Elvis Unlimited.

I’ve been listening to Myrna for as long as I’ve been listening to Elvis – basically my whole life. I wish her well.

Elvis news . . . in a flash

Now that we’re starting to get back to “normal” here on The Mystery Train Elvis Blog after wall-to-wall coverage of Elvis On Tour, I thought it would be a good chance to catch up on some of the other things going on in the Elvis world.

Too much, plus tax

While I’ve got some book and Blu-ray reviews in the works, one upcoming Elvis release I’m not likely to be reviewing anytime soon is The Complete Elvis Presley Masters collection, formally announced by Sony Legacy this week and available for pre-order. This 30-CD set checks in at $749 US, plus tax and shipping.

The initial run is limited to only 1,000 units worldwide. You get 814 recordings, a new 240-page hardcover book, and a display case.

Don’t get me wrong here. This looks like a terrific set, and I’m drooling over it as we speak! $749 is simply too much for me personally, especially considering I already have all of the songs (though not always in the same sound quality as what will no doubt be included on this set).

Checking out the other Elvis blogs

Over on Elvis Today, Thomas recently reviewed the FTD edition of How Great Thou Art. He notes, “Getting a front seat in RCA’s Studio B in Nashville and being able to listen to Elvis’ new producer Felton Jarvis directing the session with his supportive comments and encouragement, offers a valuable insight into how the recordings took place and how the songs evolved.” Certainly, a must-read post and, apparently, a must-listen CD set as well.

Phil has some great coverage this week on ElvisBlog about what he calls “Two Very Rare, Weird, and Valuable Elvis Records.” Each one of those rare records will actually cost far more than the 30-CD set referenced above, by the way. One features “Doncha’ Think It’s Time” by Elvis accidentally pressed by RCA on a record labeled as “One For The Money (Part 1)” by The Whispers. How Elvis’ 1958 recording ended up on this 1976 single is anyone’s guess.

This reminded me of a similar mistake that Sony Legacy recently made – in reverse! Some editions of their 2-CD reissue of On Stage-February 1970 have an Alice In Chains album as the first CD – though it is still labeled as Elvis. Sony is offering a disc exchange, but that’s one I’d recommend keeping if you happen to have it, even if you don’t like Alice In Chains. It’s kind of a double collectible, for Alice In Chains fans may want to obtain this unique disc as well.

Continue keeping Myrna Smith in your prayers

One of the beautiful voices you’ll hear on the real version of On Stage is that of Myrna Smith. Because of Elvis, I’ve been listening to Myrna for all of my life.

I mentioned this a couple of weeks ago, but I want to bring it up again. If you’re going to be in Memphis during Elvis Week, be sure to attend Elvis Unlimited‘s Back In Memphis concert, which will benefit Myrna – a founding member of the Sweet Inspirations vocal group that backed Elvis in concert performances from 1969 until his death in 1977. Myrna is hospitalized with a serious illness in California and the medical bills are quickly adding up. Kudos to Elvis Unlimited for taking the initiative to bring fans together to help her.

Even if you can’t attend the show, keep Myrna in your prayers, everyone. May she recover soon.

Benefit concert for Sweet Inspiration Myrna Smith at Elvis Week

Please see the following post over at the Elvis Today blog: Benefit Concert For Myrna Smith At Elvis Week. Thanks to Thomas for letting us know about this event.