The Rosa Shaw Story

Gigi Tinsley | 2/27/2014, 9 a.m.
The famous Mother Evangelist Rosa Shaw spoke openly and candidly about her life and the many opportunities given to her ...

The famous Mother Evangelist Rosa Shaw spoke openly and candidly about her life and the many opportunities given to her by God, during our interview. Her son, Charles Johnson, the older of her two sons, helped fill in the gaps when she, the day before her 105th birthday, was unable to remember a name, place, or incident. Her youngest son, Peter Johnson, lives in Newark, NJ where Charles lived for many years, too.

Shaw was born in Bishopville, SC and moved to Tampa, FL as a young woman. Before becoming an evangelist, musician and pastor, she was an entrepreneur. Shaw was a cosmetologist and owned a beauty salon and restaurant in Tampa.

After leaving Tampa, Shaw said, she “embarked on the Christian journey God led her to.” Before moving to Miami, Shaw “toured with her biological mother, Maggie Hines and numerous singers and groups, including Mahalia Jackson, Rosetta Thorpe, Marie Knight and Bro. James Cleveland. Thorpe purchased the first guitar Shaw ever had and she was in the studio when Cleveland recorded ‘No Ways Tired’.” She then made Miami her permanent residence and had summer homes in New York and New Jersey.

For 56 years, Shaw was on radio in New York and New Jersey and locally has had several well-known disc jockeys, including Chico the Virgo, Rev. Ira McCall, Ricky Thomas, Butterball and most recently Joe Riley. “I also performed at The Apollo Theater and the Yankee Stadium,” Shaw said.

Every New Years Eve, Shaw brought the New Year in at the Longshoreman’s Hall. “I packed out place every year,” Shaw exclaimed.

“I thank God for Bishop Victor T. Curry and his staff,” Shaw said. “They made my many years of broadcasting from WMBM, both on Miami Beach and here in Miami possible and work so smoothly.”

In honor of Shaw’s birthday, a lovely vase of red roses sat on the table. The flowers were sent from Curry and his WMBM staff. She proudly asked, “Did you see my beautiful roses? I answered, Yes Ma’am I did.

“Mother always started her programs with prayer,” Charles said. “She prayed for all the pastors in the city along with the ministers, evangelists and the young people. And she never forgot to pray for lost souls. For many years she promoted Neal Adams Grocery Store that use to be on 27th Ave.

Shaw pastored the Miracle Prayer Band the was started in her home and never left until she decided to stop the weekly gathering, Charles said.

“I use to travel all over the US,” Shaw stated. “I also went to the Bahamas and carried many singers and groups, including: Sister Mary White from S.C. and The soul Stirrers. On many of the tours, Minister Willie Williams, a man she helped raise from a young boy traveled with them, Charles said. “He played piano for her for several years.”

Shaw remembered that she never forgot about the country churches. “I use to go to many of the churches in the rural countries and many of them had no musical instruments.”she said. “When I left them, I always left the instruments they knew how to play but could not afford along with others they had to learn how to play.”

Shaw’s Many years of accolades, awards and cards are too numerous to name. They came from individuals and groups from all over. Her favorite songs are Job and I Had My Chance. Shaw is well cared for by Charles and her live-in nurse and caregiver Diana Perpaull-Vaughn.

Mother Shaw, the owners and staff of The Miami Times wish you a happy birthday and many more.