Frank Penny Edwards was born October 19, 1951. He is a native of Gilmer, Texas. He graduated from Gilmer High School on May 28, 1970, where he was the first black graduate with Honors after the integration of schools.
Upon high school graduation, He attended Jarvis Christian College, where he graduated with a Business Administration Degree, Bachelor of Science Degree and with a Minor in Music. While at Jarvis, he played a saxophone with the Jarvis Christian College Jazz band.
He also played for Jarvis Christian College Gospel Choir. Upon his graduation from Jarvis, he was employed by Texas Eastman Chemical Company, where he has been employed for 43 plus years as a rail car specialist and currently was a transportation Specialist.
Frank Penny Edwards has worn many hats. Just to name a few: a Gospel Musician, Song Writer, and Composer, Gospel Promoter, Rodeo Producer, Community Leader, Business Owner, a Cattleman, and last but not least, a forerunner for Many.
As a Gospel Musician, his beginnings started with Jarvis Christian College. He has traveled all over the United States playing and singing gospel music with the James Cleveland Gospel Workshop of America for over 18 years. He played with the Texas Mass Choir and the Interdenominational Choir. He has played for numerous church choirs, groups, and for various church programs all over East Texas and in other states.
At an early age, he accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior while attending Mt. Gilead Baptist Church of Gilmer, Texas. Presently, he is a member of Mason Springs Baptist Church, where he has served as Minister of Music for the past 44 years. When Bro. Edwards started playing for Mason, he coordinated various programs for the procuring of Pulpit Furniture, Communion Table, Organ, and Piano.
Bro. Edwards was the first to carry a church gospel choir to the Yamboree Festival in Gilmer, Texas. He and Mason Springs Choir carried an Organ, drums, and the Lord with them as they would travel there and sing on the Corners or Court House lawn. People would gather, clapping and patting their feet. They were uplifted by the gospel singing. Some would even give donations.
He has formed several gospel groups of his own. They were the “Celestial Singers,” “Christian Essence” and “PBC Sanctuary Choir”. They traveled all over Texas singing gospel songs. He was so inspired, that in the year 1977 under his label: God’s Tower of Power, he wrote 2 songs. They are: “He’s Coming Back Again” and “One More Time”.
As a Gospel Promoter, he has brought great gospel entertainment to Mason Springs and T. G. Fields Auditorium in Longview. Just to name a few: The O’Neal Twins, Isaac Douglas, The Craig Brothers, Andrae Crouch, and Walter Hawkins Family, Shirley Caesar, Al Greene, Vickie Winan, and James Cleveland.
Twenty Three Years ago, he founded the Shakin The House Gospel Music Workshop. Its humble beginnings started at Mason Springs Church. This workshop consisted of all denominations. There were participants from all over: East Texas, Dallas, Ft. Worth, and Shreveport. All on one accord. The workshop consisted of a Gospel Premier Musical Night, Communion Service, Men, and Women Bible Study Classes, Women Night only, Men Night only, Youth Night Extravaganza with a Fashion Show, and Shakin The House Gospel Musical Night. The Gospel Singing nights outgrew the church and those services were moved to T. G. Fields Auditorium and in recent years to the Bethel Temple Church of Longview and Communion Services are held at Unity Tabernacle. This workshop also provided opportunities for local East Texas gospel singers a paid trip to Jackson, Mississippi for Gospel talent tryouts. KJTX voiced that this was the premier gospel event for the beginning of the year.
As a Rodeo Producer, he has produced rodeos for the past 26 years. The first Juneteenth Rodeo was produced to help provide funding for the Mentally challenged. He then founded the FPE Rodeo Productions and later the Real Cowboy Association. After a few years of producing the Longview Juneteenth Rodeo, doors begin to open. History was being made. Just to name a few, for the first time ever, a Black Rodeo of Color was held in Coliseums that had their doors closed to a Black Rodeo.
To be the first in Jackson, Ms., Bossier City, La., Little Rock, Arkansas, Lafayette, La., Monroe, La., Biloxi, Ms., and others. He has met and done business with people, such as Meager Evers Brother, Charles Evers and other distinguished Black Leaders. In all of these once closed doors to Blacks, the Key to the City was presented to Mr. Edwards. FPE Rodeo Productions /Real Cowboy Association have benefited such organizations as: Windridge Therapeutic, Hope Cottage, ARC, Gregg County Deputies, others and currently still give away Annual Rodeo Scholarships.
As a Community Leader, in 1977, he was presented in the Longview News-Journal as one of the, “People of our Community Who Make a Difference”, by Longview Bank and Trust.
In 1995, he served as Grand Marshall for the Gladewater Christmas Parade.
As a Community Leader, he was a member of the LEDCO Board: Longview Economic Development Corporation. Mr. Edwards believed we must Strive to have a Successful Economical Development Strategy PLAN for improving our great City of Longview.
Last, but not least, Frank Edwards has been a Cattleman for the past 35 years. Besides family, church, work, and his businesses, he found time to feed cattle, haul hay, brush hog, etc. He also was a horse lover. He competed in other Equine Events(Team Penning), where he was a member of the International Team Penning Association.
He and his wife, Shirley Brooks Edwards of 37 years of marriage, are residents of Longview, Texas. The Edwards family are active members of Mason Spring Baptist Church.