Prayer List

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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RIP Pastor Norris Turner, Quartet Veteran

By Bob Marovich The Journal of Gospel Music has learned that veteran quartet singer Pastor Norris Turner passed away yesterday evening. He was 81 years old. Norris Turner was born March 19, 1936, in Troy, South Carolina, to Johnnie and Helen Chiles Turner.  As a youngster, Turner sang with various quartets, including the Golden Stars of Greenwood, South Carolina; the Spiritualaires of Columbia, South Carolina; Therman Ruth’s famous Selah Singers of New York; and the Brooklyn All Stars. An article by Damian Dominguez for South Carolina newspaper The Index-Journal notes that when Turner was with the Selah Singers, he performed for President ...

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Bill Hearn, Christian/Gospel Music Executive, Dead at 58

NASHVILLE, December 11, 2017—William Ray “Bill” Hearn, a highly admired and revered music industry executive who led the Nashville-based market-leading Capitol Christian Music Group (CCMG) as its Chairman & CEO, passed away yesterday at age 58 in Nashville, Tennessee. Hearn successfully combined an unwavering vision, a commitment to excellence, and an arsenal of exceptional talent to make CCMG the leader in the Christian/Gospel music industry. Hearn was instrumental in the formation and leadership of that company, having played a leading role in the sale and highly-successful transition of family-owned Sparrow Records – founded by his father, Billy Ray Hearn – ...

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RIP: Della Reese, Sang with Mahalia Jackson, the Meditation Singers

By Bob Marovich Although better known as a television actor and pop singer, Della Reese made her early foray into professional music as a gospel singer. As a teenager, she worked with Mahalia Jackson and, later, with Brown’s Inspirational Singers (Indianapolis) and the Meditation Singers (Detroit). Maureen O’Donnell’s obituary in the Chicago Sun-Times offers a look at the decades-spanning career of Della Reese. Read it here: Della Reese. The Journal of Gospel Music salutes the late Della Reese with this clip of her singing “Lonelyville” in the 1958 film, Let’s Rock.

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RIP: Pastor Shawn Jones

By Bob Marovich The Journal of Gospel Music was saddened to learn of the sudden passing of Pastor Shawn Jones of the Alabama quartet Shawn Jones and the Believers. Here is the group’s biography, from their Facebook page: “Pastor Shawn Jones (Formally of The Alabama Spirituals) & The Believers started singing in the year of 2000 at the First Baptist Church in Rockford, AL. They appeared on shows with gospel great like Lee Williams & The Spiritual QC’s, Rev. Andrew Cheers & The Song Birds, Darrell McFadden & The Disciples, Slim & The Supreme Angels, and Dorothy Norwood. “After a ...

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