Brother Claude Daniel Ely, coined as the King Recording Label’s “Gospel Ranger” of the Appalachian Mountains, was born in Pucketts Creek, Virginia. He was the first Pentecostal Holiness recording artist to be signed to a major recording label for strictly sacred music and songs.
Receiving fame for his penned song, "There Ain’t No Grave (Gonna Hold My Body Down)", Ely’s musical style and spiritual influence still exist today among both secular and sacred music enthusiasts. Although Bozie Sturdivant was the first to record Brother Claude Ely's tune in 1941 with the help of the US Library of Congress' field recordings, Ely had penned the song in 1934. King Records of Cincinnati helped Brother Claude Ely copyright the song in 1953. Many Hollywood entertainers and musical artists have acknowledged their admiration and fascination for Brother Claude Ely. Often music historians attest that other musical artists cite Brother Claude Ely as having been a positive influence on their works as well. Elvis' mother Gladys brought Elvis Presley to Ely's tent revivals. Artists recording Brother Claude Ely's songs include Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. Robert Duvall's self-produced movie entitled The Apostle also integrated Brother Claude Ely's music on its soundtrack.
Ely pastored various churches in Kentucky, Virginia and the Cincinnati, Ohio area. Ely also hosted a radio program entitled "The Gospel Ranger Show" which aired across the southeastern portion of the United States. Many of Ely's religious followers and numerous admirers still exist today in the Appalachian mountains.
Ely's great nephew, Dr. Macel Ely II, wrote an official biography on Brother Claude Ely's life. The book is based upon oral history ascertained from over 1,000 personal interviews Dr. Ely conducted with musical artists, ministers, and Appalachian residents who remembered the singer/preacher. The book is a "set" consisting of the earlier mentioned book and a music CD. The set is entitled Ain't No Grave: The Life & Legacy of Brother Claude Ely was released in 2010 by Dust-to-Digital out of Atlanta, Georgia.
American VI: Ain't No Grave is a posthumous album by Johnny Cash. It was released on February 26, 2010, which would have been Cash's 78th birthday. Using Brother Claude Ely's song "Ain't No Grave" as the title track, the LA Times reports that the song would have been Johnny Cash's last recorded song before his death.[not in citation given]
Eddie Dean, writer for The Washington Post stated:
...and Holiness preachers such as Brother Claude Ely rave on like renegade rockabilly cats ... You have Brother Claude Ely doing radio broadcasts that sound like a tent revival ... I think his material is as strong as anything Sun Studio did. Even the wildest rockabilly rarely reached the unhinged delirium of "There Ain't No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down," ... A Holiness preacher from Kentucky, Ely was a faith healer and a terrific guitarist, judging from the ferocious rockabilly rhythms on "Grave," a country hit in 1953. Ely and many others ... foreshadow the rock-and-soul explosion, when church-reared performers such as Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin fused sanctified and secular style to revolutionize pop music.
- Ely II, Macel. "Ain't No Grave: The Life & Legacy of Brother Claude Ely." (2010) Atlanta: Dust-to-Digital.
- Radio Diaries (5 May 2011). "A Nephew's Quest: Who Was Brother Claude Ely?". National Public Radio. Retrieved 6 May 2011. "Gladys Presley, Elvis' mother, was a fan of Brother Claude Ely's ministry, and some people remember Gladys and Elvis getting blessed at Brother Claude Ely tent revivals..."
- "Johnny Cash's final studio album, 'American VI,' coming Feb. 26". LA Times. 2010-01-13. Retrieved 2012-06-07.
- Dean, Eddie. "Gospel Music's New Apostle: With 'Goodbye, Babylon' Lance Ledbetter Has Resurrected a Long-Ignored Era of Sacred Song." The Washington Post. 18 February 1994: C1.