Prayer List

RIP: Deon Unthank, Founder and CEO of AbsolutelyGospel.com

LEBANON, TN – (December 20, 2021) – Deon Unthank, founder and CEO of AbsolutelyGospel.com, peacefully passed into the arms of his Savior on Friday, December 17, 2021, surrounded by his family. Always a Southern Gospel singer and fan first, Deon founded AbsolutelyGospel.com (formerly SoGospelNews.com), with his deceased wife Susan in 1997. The site gained national prominence and became a leading voice in the industry in the early 2000s that has continued to this day. The site’s awards program, Absolutely Gospel Music Awards, became it’s calling card and legacy. He also founded the Southern Gospel group The Sunday Edition in the 1970s ...

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RIP Joe Simon – Soul Singer, Minister

From the Ace Records UK website. Thanks to Doug Price for letting JGM know of Bishop Simon’s passing and forwarding this information. Joe Simon died on 13th December 2021, aged 85 years. Joe Simon possessed one of the greatest Southern Soul voices heard throughout the golden age of the 60s & 70s soul music. The voice of Joe Simon was one of deep soul. It had a languid, velvet-smooth quality reminiscent of other great talents such as Jerry Butler, Garland Green, and James Carr. One of his early influences was the supper-club crooner Arthur Prysock and he was also very ...

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Celebrating the Life of Gospel Legend Shawn McLemore

For Immediate Release (Houston, Texas) The music community is mourning the loss of a Gospel music legend with the passing of Shawn McLemore after an extended illness. “Shawn was a great spirit with enormous talent and personality to match”, says Blacksmoke Music Worldwide CEO Kerry Douglas. “To see him take the stage and have absolute command of the room was just magic. He was genuine, he had a great sense of humor and when he sang, God listened. Shawn was a gift to us and he will surely be missed.” Life began for Shawn McLemore in Los Angeles, California, where ...

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RIP Lee Williams of the Spiritual QCs

The Journal of Gospel Music was saddened to learn of the passing of Lee Williams, quartet legend and leader of the Spiritual QCs. Below is a brief bio of Williams and the group that I wrote back in 2019: Born July 28, 1946, and raised in Tupelo, Mississippi, Lee Williams began singing gospel at the tender age of seven. He was encouraged to do so by his uncle, Mitchell Thornton, who was part of a quartet called the Gospel Stars. Soon, Lee and his three brothers were performing as the Gospel Stars Juniors. Thornton formed another quartet called the Spiritual ...

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RIP Gospel Radio Icon Connie Denell Cato-Dickerson, 65

Nashville, TN — Legendary Stellar Award and NAACP Award-winning radio announcer Connie Denell Cato-Dickerson was the pride of Nashville. The daughter of radio legend Evelyn Cato, the first black female disc-jockey in the Southeast, Denell started as a sports reporter for her school newspaper while attending Riverside High School in Chattanooga, TN. She worked for two local Chattanooga radio stations, WNOO AM and WNTP, hosting the Quiet Storm shows before attending the famed Morris-Brown College, a historically black college in Atlanta, GA. Denell went on to attend Georgia State University and worked at the local Atlanta radio station WAOK FM ...

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RIP: James Lott, Minister of Music and Utopia Music Group CEO

From a Press Release: James Lott, beloved Minister of Music for Sweet Holy Spirit Church and CEO of Utopia Music Group LLC, made his transition Saturday, June 5, 2021. To say the Gospel Music Industry is shocked and saddened would be an understatement. God called his dedicated servant home after a lengthy illness. The void left by his physical presence will be deeply felt and hard to fill. Please keep James’ family, Bishop Larry D. Trotter, Sweet Holy Spirit Church, and Utopia Music Group in your prayers. Their current recording project “Alright” will continue forward and a new CEO will ...

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RIP B.J. Thomas, Grammy Award-Winning Christian Singer-Songwriter

By Robert M. Marovich Although he may be best known for recording chart-topping classics like “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head,” “Hooked on a Feeling,” and “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song,” singer-songwriter and country-pop artist Billy Joe “B. J.” Thomas was also a born-again Christian who sang and recorded religious songs. Thomas, who passed away May 29, 2021, at age 78, released his first of several gospel albums, Home Where I Belong (Myrrh), in 1976. Despite a Grammy nomination for “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head,” the golden phonograph statuette eluded Thomas until 1977, when ...

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RIP Madeline Thompson, Ward Singer, GMWA Honoree

By Robert M. Marovich Eric Maurice Clark shared the sad news that gospel singer Madeline Thompson has passed away. Clark had interviewed Thompson for the February 2021 issue of his Inside a Gospel Music Historian’s World magazine. From Philadelphia, Madeline sang with her sister Julia in a duo called the Thompson Sisters. They even sang with the Imperial Gospel Singers at one point. In 1960, Mother Gertrude Ward wanted the two young ladies to join the Ward Singers; the departure of several foundational members to form the Stars of Faith left a gaping hole in the national gospel group. Only ...

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RIP Pervis Staples, Co-Founder of the Staple Singers

From a press release: Pervis Staples, a co-founding member of the legendary gospel group, the Staple Singers, passed away suddenly on May 6, 2021 at his home in Dolton, Illinois, according to Adam Ayers, a member of Mavis Staples’ 525 Worldwide Music management team. He was 85 years old. Beginning in 1956 with “Uncloudy Day” on Chicago’s Vee-Jay Record label and stretching into the early 1980s, the Staple Singers were one of the most influential acts in gospel, soul, and social protest music. Their signature songs such as “Uncloudy Day,” “Why Am I Treated So Bad,” “Respect Yourself” and “I’ll ...

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RIP: Columbus Gregory – St. Louis gospel announcer, co-founder of Redi-Soul Records

By Robert M. Marovich JGM was saddened to learn of the passing on April 14, 2021, of St. Louis gospel radio announcer Columbus Gregory. He was 90 years old. In addition to more than a half-century on St. Louis radio, Gregory co-founded Redi-Soul Records, an independent label also based in St. Louis. Using saxophonist Oliver Sain’s legendary Archway Studio, Redi-Soul recorded many local artists in the 1970s, most notably the Williams Singers, who would sign with Checker Records, and the Gregory-Aires. I was honored to interview Gregory for my “Gospel Memories” radio show in May 2009. This article on the ...

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