A lifelong love of music, an outgoing personality and someone who would do anything to help another person, are among the ways Charles Burke will be remembered by his loved ones and former-colleagues, and factors that recently helped the late Maiden resident to become a permanent part Southern gospel history.
Burke was recently accepted into the Southern Gospel Music Association’s Hall of Fame, an awarded accepted on his behalf by his widow Carolyn and three children.
A baritone with a “rich, deep voice”, Burke lived in the Maiden area all of his life. His father was a Lincolnton barber and his wife of 55 years is a lifelong area resident, too.
Burke died last year, but had received other awards and accomplishments throughout his career. Prior to his most-recent and biggest accomplishment, Burke received an award from the Southern Gospel Music Guild for outstanding achievement .
Executive Director of the SGMA Charlie Waller who also serves on the Hall of Fame induction committee, knew Burke for 30 years and still remembers when they first met.
“I met him at an awards show in Atlanta, a gospel music awards show,” Waller told the Times-News last week. “We met through a mutual friend and kind of hit it off right away; he was a very colorful guy.”
A singer for the Pine Ridge Boys, owner of Singing Americans — a gospel group who saw popularity in the 1980s and early 90s — and service as a Board Member of the Southern Gospel Music Association and National Quartet Convention, were just a few of the ventures Burke was involved in over the years — always staying active in the music community, his wife remembers.
But his resume isn’t the only reason he deserved his newest accomplishment, those closest to him believe, but a long-standing dedication to singing, his honest no matter what demeanor, and “the will to help others” without ever being asked.
“He was just a loveable fellow who would do anything for you,” Burke said. “He was the kind of man who told you what he thought, and if you were in the wrong and he knew it he’d tell you; if you didn’t want the truth, you didn’t ask him. I think that’s why so many people liked him.”
The SGMA is the only nonprofit organization to recognize musicians in this genre of music.
Though Burke grew up singing in church and stopped officially singing in groups, he never really got out of singing and channeled his energy toward helping others in the industry, Waller said.