Sparrow Records Founder Billy Ray Hearn Dies at Age 85

Billy Ray Hearn died last week (April 15) from complications of heart disease. He was 85-years-old.

Hearn pioneered a new wave of Christian music back around the1970s, introducing artists like Bebe and Cece Winans, Andrae Crouch and more. He later launched the Myrrh record label for contemporary gospel music under the Word Record Co. and went on to found Sparrow Records (now Capitol Christian Music Group), the world’s largest Christian record label where he discovered artists like Steven Curtis Chapman.

In 1997, Hearn was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame for his musical efforts.

Last month he received the Frances Preston Lifetime Music Industry Achievement Award from the T.J. Martell Foundation, a cancer foundation he held close to his heart since his first wife died from the disease.