Prayer List

Joel Smith Homegoing Services Posted

By Bob Marovich As many readers already know, gospel drummer, bass player, bandleader and producer Joel Smith passed away on September 8 at age 58. Smith cut his teeth on gospel music by accompanying his uncles Edwin and Walter Hawkins. In 1977, at age thirteen, he played drums on Edwin’s Wonderful album. That was only the first; Smith would participate on many other Edwin Hawkins albums, including the classic Christmas album for Birthright. He participated in Walter’s historic Love Alive series and accompanied Tramaine Hawkins on bass and drums for her solo recordings. Smith also played bass guitar on Kurt ...

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RIP: Lavelle Lacy, Gospel Musician and Songwriter

JGM learned the sad news that Chicagoan and longtime gospel musician Lavelle Lacy has gone from labor to reward. The number of gospel artists he accompanied is numerous, and includes Inez Andrews, Rev. Maceo Woods and the Christian Tabernacle Concert Choir, Rev. Ernest Franklin, and the Starlight St. James Choir.  Lacy was part of a coterie of top-notch gospel musicians in Chicago who give your music special oomph. He also wrote songs for the likes of the Chicago Mass Choir, Cosmopolitan Church of Prayer Warriors, and Ricky Dillard and New G. Lacy was a featured keyboardist on the 2016 release of Lift Me Up: ...

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RIP: Stan Lewis, Record Company Owner

Stanley “Stan” Lewis, owner of Jewel Records, passed away July 14, 2018, at the age of 91. In 1948, he and his wife Pauline opened Stan’s Record Shop in Shreveport, Louisiana. One of their customers was a young Elvis Presley. From there, the Lewis’s built their enterprise into a mail order company, a distributor, and founded Jewel, Paula, and Ronn labels. Their labels featured a potpourri of American roots music, including blues, R&B, country, gospel, rock, and soul. More on Lewis’s life and many contributions to the record industry can be found in the obituary here: Stan Lewis. We at JGM ...

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RIP: Clarence Fountain, Last Original Member of the Blind Boys of Alabama

By Bob Marovich Clarence Fountain, the longtime lead singer and an original member of the Grammy Award-winning Blind Boys of Alabama, passed away this morning. He was the last of the original members of the group that was organized in 1944. Six sightless pupils, including Clarence Fountain, left the Alabama Institute for the Negro Deaf and Blind in Talladega, Alabama, in 1945 to pursue a career as a professional gospel group. Initially known as the Happy Land Singers, the group was among the early quartets to incorporate hard-singing gospel techniques into their rhythmic harmonizing. The bio from the National Endowment of ...

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Pastor C. James Starks, Patriarch of the Starks Family, Makes His Transition

(Detroit, MI)  Members of the Gospel Music community at large offer prayers and condolences to the Starks family in the untimely passing of the family patriarch, Elder C. James Starks, on Monday, April 14. A loving and devoted husband, father, spiritual leader, and “man by example,” Pastor Starks was a mentor and inspiration to many, both young and old. “Dad was my hero,” said multiple Dove and Stellar Award-nominated composer and producer Derrick Starks. “I would not be the man or the musician I am today had it not been for his example. Over 54 years of marriage and 80 ...

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Yvonne Staples of the Staple Singers Passes Away

By Bob Marovich Bill Carpenter, co-founder of Capital Entertainment in Washington, DC, and a longtime friend of and spokesperson for the Staples Family, informed JGM of the passing of Yvonne Staples. She died at her home in Chicago today, Tuesday, April 10, at age 80. Born in Chicago on October 23, 1937, Yvonne was initially a reluctant singer. She didn’t join her family’s group until some years after its founding. While not a lead singer, Yvonne’s baritone contributed greatly to the Staples’ distinctive harmonies. She is present for the Staple Singers’ late 1950s selections on Vee Jay Records, their songs of social significance for ...

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RIP: Ann Yancy, Chicago Gospel Music Pioneer

By Bob Marovich Dennis Cole of the Chicago Alliance informed the Journal of Gospel Music that Ann Yancy passed away March 12, 2018, at the age of 87. Affectionately known as “Mama,” Ann Yancy was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on October 29, 1930. After moving to Chicago, she became a member of Greater Harvest Missionary Baptist Church when it was pastored by the Reverend Louis Boddie. She sang in the Sylvia Boddie Gospel Singers and traveled and sang with such Chicago gospel pioneers as R.L. Knowles, the Robert Anderson Singers, Willie Webb, and the Roberta Martin Singers. Ann met her husband, ...

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RIP: Dr. James C. McLean of the Bethlehem Gospel Singers

Angelo Breeden and Archie Swindell Jr. informed JGM that Dr. James C. McLean, a founding member of the Bethlehem Gospel Singers, passed away in a Charlotte, North Carolina, hospital yesterday evening, February 5, 2018. Hailing from Laurinburg, North Carolina, the Bethlehem Gospel Singers were organized in the late 1950s by Dr. McLean and Archie Swindell Sr. The group enjoyed recording success on Hoyt Sullivan’s HSE label starting in 1969, making noise in 1972 with their two-part “My Bible is Right.” Listen to the track below and please keep Dr. McLean’s family, friends, and fans in prayer.

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RIP, Ronald Greer; Wrote Book on Roberta Martin Singers

By Bob Marovich JGM is saddened to report the passing of Mr. Ronald Greer of Bay City, Texas. He passed away in his sleep sometime last night or early this morning. Ron was the number one fan of the Roberta Martin Singers. Over the years, he kept in touch with the Martin Singers’ manager, Eugene Smith. Before Eugene passed, he shared with Ron many stories about the Roberta Martin Singers. Many went into Ron’s book, Only a Look, a history and appreciation of the pioneering gospel group. Subsequent to the publication of Only a Look, Ron helped secure a place for the Roberta ...

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RIP: Edwin Hawkins, Architect of Contemporary Gospel

By Bob Marovich The Journal of Gospel Music has learned that Edwin Hawkins, whose arrangement of the nineteenth-century hymn “Oh Happy Day” became a crossover success and signaled the emergence of contemporary gospel music, passed away today (Jan. 15) in Pleasanton, California. Here is a brief biography I put together: Born August 19, 1943, to Mamie and Dan Lee Hawkins, Edwin Hawkins grew up in music. Trained by his elder brother, Edwin began playing piano at age five and accompanied the family group. By the time he was sixteen, Edwin had sung at a variety of churches in the Bay Area and was part ...

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