Next week, Tom Tipton will give what he considers "the biggest performance of my life."
That's an impressive claim for someone who has sung for millions of viewers on TV's "Hour of Power," soloed in jam-packed stadiums as part of Billy Graham's crusades and given command performances for two presidents.
What makes next week's gig so special for the 77-year-old Twin Cities gospel singer? He had a stroke Oct. 4, and he thought that was the end of his career.
"I didn't expect to sing again," he said. "My voice was stringy. I thought God was going to take it away from me, and that would be the end of it."
Instead, he recently had a phone call with "the best post-stroke news I could ever get: I've been invited to sing at Billy Graham's headquarters in North Carolina."
He chuckled in his rich baritone before adding: "They don't know that I had a stroke, and I don't plan on telling them until I get there."
His right arm and foot still are a bit uncooperative, but his voice is back to its full, deep, resonant strength. He'll use it to entertain at the Billy Graham Evangelical Association's annual Senior Celebration, which runs Monday through Wednesday.
Although Tipton is best known in this country for the 20 years he spent as a soloist on "The Hour of Power," he also toured Europe with Graham. The 92-year-old evangelist is retired and is not expected to take part in next week's event, "but he will be in the audience," Tipton said excitedly. "That makes it special, too."
Jeff Strickler • 612-673-7392