Gabriel Hardeman Dies

TBGB learned that gospel singer Gabriel Hardeman (Gabriel Hardeman Delegation) passed away today, June 16, 2012.
We last reported on Hardeman in 2008 when he underwent a single-lung transplant.
Singer-songwriter, Gabriel S. Hardeman, best-known for co-writing R&B star Stephanie Mills’ 1987 #1 hit “I Feel Good All Over” and Teddy Pendergrass’ “Truly Blessed”, died Saturday, June 16th in the Philadelphia area from complications of interstitial fibrosis. He was 68 years old.

He was diagnosed with the illness in May 2000 but with medication functioned well until 2005 when he started intermittently using a portable oxygen tank. His condition improved after a 2009 single lung transplant at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital but he recently began contacting friends to say that his prognosis was grim and to say goodbye.

Born December13, 1943 in College Park, GA where his father was an African Methodist Episcopal pastor. He kicked off his music career by singing and playing piano at his dad’s church. His parents moved the family up north for better financial opportunities when he was still a youth. They settled in Harrisburg, PA before finally moving to Philadelphia where Hardeman graduated from William Penn High School.

After graduation, he briefly joined the R&B band, the El Dantes, before going off to West Virginia State College as a physical education major. Upon graduation, he worked as a physical education teacher and it’s during that period that The Gabriel Hardeman Delegation was born. “There was a talent show, and I wanted to get some kids together and do some gospel music,” he told Rashod Ollison at Philadelphia Inquirer in 2001. “`Oh Happy Day’ was hot then. I had about 40 kids and the next thing you know, word got around and we had like, 80 kids in the choir.”

They started performing throughout the year but he’d lose his best singers as they graduated from high school, so he decided to create an independent group and named it The Delegation in 1973. “We were doing then what folks like Kirk Franklin are doing now,” he told the Inquirer. “We would go into these conservative churches, and they would tell us we were doing the devil’s music.” The group signed to Savoy Records where they recorded hit albums such as the self-titled LP that featured the radio hit “Feels Like Fire” and earned a Grammy Award nomination.

Hardeman became disenchanted with the politics of the gospel world and retired from recording for a while. However, he and his wife, Annette Hardeman (from the disco era trio, First Choice, best known for “Dr. Love”) began to write songs together. They wrote Stephanie Mills’ #1 R&B hit “I Feel Good All Over”, Mikki Howard’s #2 R&B smash “Love Under New Management” and a “This is the Last Time” and “Truly Blessed” for Teddy Pendergrass. They also did backing vocal sessions for R&B acts such as Patti Labelle, Phil Perry and Phyllis Hyman.

Eventually, the industry demand for them to write more salacious R&B music conflicted with their faith and they devoted themselves to writing and producing gospel music. Aside from writing for gospel acts such as Edwin Hawkins and the Wilmington-Chester Mass Choir, Hardeman recorded his own albums for the Messiah and Birthright labels before making a comeback with the Stellar Award nominated, “To the Chief Musician”, CD in 2001. Hardeman returned to Atlanta in 2003 to take care of his elderly parents and he became a pastor in the Belleview Circuit AME Churches in the city. He returned to Philadelphia in 2008 to take advantage of the better medical facilities in the city.

He is survived by his wife, Annette Hardeman, and their son, Michael.

About Bob Marovich

Bob Marovich is a gospel music historian, author, and radio host. Founder of Journal of Gospel Music blog (formally The Black Gospel Blog) and producer of the Gospel Memories Radio Show.


  1. So sorry to hear in peace Bro Gabriel

  2. RIP Gabriel Hardeman

    Hardeman was my softball coach when I went to South Philadelphia High School he was a great man

  3. TO the Chief Musician – RIP

  4. My late husband and I met Gabe at the first James Cleveland Gospel Music Workshops of America we attended way back in the early 1980’s. He taught a class on Music Business. My husband gained much respect for Gabe’s knowledge of music after that. He and his wife were a perfect couple. My heart is sad to know Gabe has passed. May God comfort his wife & family! I know he and Marvin (Swimpson) are into “heavenly” music ministry now!

  5. In the early60’s,Gabriel S. Hardeman,Sr was the pastor of Monumental A.M.E. in Steelton,Pa.
    At that time I was 6 years old, and I will never forget what a dynamic preacher he was.
    After he left there, he and his family settled in Phila.
    I also remember the younger Gabe’s nickname was “Sonny”.
    So shocked to hear of his passing.And I wish I still had the “Chief Musician” cd.

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