May 18, 2017 – Rosa Nell Speer Powell, age 94, left this world surrounded by family on May 16, 2017. Rosa Nell was the last living member of the Southern Gospel group, The Speer Family. Being signed to RCA the same time as Elvis, The Speer Family became known as one of the first white gospel groups and were pioneers in featuring women singers. The Speers had the first gospel television show in TV history and also made history with the first gospel concept music video. Rosa Nell was the original pianist and lead singer for The Speer Family, which led to her being known as one of Southern Gospel’s finest pianist. She quickly became recognized for her quick wit and untouched runs on songs like “Won’t We Be So Happy” and “I’ve Got That Old-Time Religion”.
In June 1948, she married Edwin Powell and eventually left the family group. During the next 30 years, she and Edwin traveled and sang together in the Powell Lacy Quartet. She found joy in raising their children and teaching private piano. After Edwin’s death in 1979, Rosa Nell returned to traveling with The Speer Family and ran the family office on Music Row in Nashville. She and her sister, Mary Tom, coordinated all of the administrative duties for the Ben Speer Stamps-Baxter School of Music as well.
Over the 77 year career, The Speer Family went from traveling in a horse and buggy, to a Model T Ford, and finally, a customized tour bus. With more than 75 albums marketed, The Speers won 14 Dove Awards and were nominated for 7 Grammys. The family was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame, and the Alabama Gospel Music Hall of Fame. They were the first group to receive the GMA Lifetime Achievement Award. In addition, Rosa Nell was also inducted into the Piano Hall of Fame and individually into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2005.
Rosa Nell is preceded in death by her dad, GT Speer, mom, Lena Speer, brothers, Brock and Ben Speer, and sister, Mary Tom Reid. She is survived by her children, Gina (Thomas) Isbell, Tom (Lisa) Powell, Jim (Linda) Powell, Joyce (Paul) Pritchett, and Wayne (Mary Jane) Powell; her grandchildren, Karen Powell, Steve (Karen) Powell, Patrice (Troy) Harvill, Scott (Stephanie) Pritchett, Aleisha (Steve) Moreau-Hasson, Stacie (Kip) Adams, Leah Powell, Tera (Jason) Alford, Candace Powell, Brooke (Myles) Chatham, Seth (Katelyn) Isbell, Adam (Ashlie) Isbell, Andrew Powell, Jacob Powell; her great-grandchildren, Justin Powell, Jordan Powell, Brianna Moreau, Dawson Pritchett, Greyson Harvill, Landon Pritchett, Peyton Harville, Hayden Pritchett, Kaylee Alford, Jackson Alford, Ben Hasson, Katelyn Chatham, Megan Hasson, Kaleb Alford, Faith Chatham, Maddox Chatham, Mason Isbell, Ella Chatham, Sophia Hasson, Madelyn Isbell, Neyland Isbell.
Visitation will be held from 5-8 PM Friday, May 19, 2017 and 12-2 PM Saturday, May 20, 2017 at Decherd First Church of the Nazarene. Funeral Services will be held at 2:00 PM on Saturday, May 20, 2017 at Decherd First Church of the Nazarene with Pastor Brian Nave officiating. Interment will be held at 5:30 PM at Mt. Zion Baptist Church Cemetery in Boaz, Alabama. Moore-Cortner Funeral Home, 300 First Ave NW, Winchester, TN37398, (931)-967-2222, www.moorecortner.com.