Billy Ray Hearn

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Billy Ray Hearn
Born(1929-04-26)April 26, 1929
DiedApril 15, 2015(2015-04-15) (aged 85)
OccupationFounder of Myrrh Records and Sparrow Records
External video
Oral History, Ray Hearn talks about starting the choir program at his local Baptist church and realizing that young people were excited about contemporary music in the church. Interview date July 13, 2013, NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Oral History Library

Billy Ray Hearn (April 26, 1929 – April 15, 2015) was the founder and chairman of the Capitol Christian Music Group (formerly EMI Christian Music Group) the world's largest Christian music label.[1]

In 1954, Billy Ray Hearn graduated from Baylor University with a degree in church music.

In 1972, Hearn started Myrrh Records, one of the first labels devoted to contemporary Christian music, at Word Inc., the label of Amy Grant. In 1976, he formed his own label, Sparrow Records, the label behind musicians Keith Green, John Michael Talbot, and Margaret Becker.[2]

In 1992, Hearn sold Sparrow to EMI Music, the label of artists including Steven Curtis Chapman and BeBe & CeCe Winans.

Hearn was a member of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and in 1999 received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Gospel Music Association. Hearn was also founder and sponsor of the biannual Hearn Symposium on Christian Music at Baylor University.[1] He died in 2015 of complications from heart disease.[3]


  1. ^ a b McNeil, W. K. Encyclopedia of American gospel music. Routledge, 2005.
  2. ^ "Sparrow Finds Markets Beyond Gospel Entertainment", Los Angeles Times, November 14, 1989. "Hearn and one of his recording groups bought the company for about $250,000. In 1980, Hearn bought out his partners."
  3. ^ "Christian music pioneer Billy Ray Hearn dies at 85". The Tennessean. April 16, 2015. Retrieved April 17, 2015.

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