RIP Calvin White, Gospel Artist and Composer

Anthony Heilbut reported to TBGB that gospel artist and composer Calvin White died two weeks ago in New York. White was approximately 70 years old.

The name of Calvin White is not well known in gospel circles anymore but that’s a shame, considering his contributions to gospel music.

As Heilbut reports, White was one of the two soloists on the Abyssinian Baptist Church Choir’s famous March, 1960 recording “Said I Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody” (Madame Margaret Simpson was the other soloist). The recording, reissued on the CD Shaking the Rafters, was selected to represent the gospel choir singing style for the boxed set Voices, which offered aural illustrations of vocal music from around the world.

White was a member of the Gospel Wonders, a New York quartet, and composed “As Long as I’ve Got Jesus.” The Gospel Wonders recorded the song in 1965, but the composition achieved greater fame when it was covered in the same year by James Cleveland and the Cleveland Singers, and in the 1990s by Vickie Winans.

White also appeared with Professor Alex Bradford and Marion Williams in the original company of Black Nativity. He scored a couple of pop hits, too, with a trio called the Sandpebbles, also known as C. and The Shells.

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.

6 comments

  1. Hi Bob,

    I just read another sad news on Minister Addison’s Collector’s Board today:

    Barney Parks passen February, 25th. He was a founding member of the Dixie Hummingbirds and also of the Sensational Nightingales. Parks was married to Madam Edna Gallmon Cooke.

    Bernd

  2. Thanks Bob for keeping us informed. I think it’s so sad that nowadays when we read linear notes to learn that one person wrote a song, it’s usually someone else that wrote it and never got the credit. I always thought “Long As I Got King Jesus” was scored by Cleveland…now I know the truth. Thanks for teaching and informing us all. Godblesha.

  3. You are welcome, Prayzehymn. At one time I thought King James wrote it, too, until someone told me about Calvin White and I heard the original single. Best, Bob

  4. Sorry to read about Calvin White, I had not heard from him in many years but after reading about Dee Dee Warwicke I decided to Google him. In the 60’s I went with him to the Apollo to see his friend DEE DEE. Glad you mentioned the group The Sandpebbles which name had to be changed for legal reasons so he went with C and The Shells, there hit was FORGET IT,FORGET IT.

  5. Hi Bob:

    I performed with Calvin White several years ago when he was with The Gospel Wonders. I was one of the Gospel Wonderettes under the direction of Anthony Hilliard. (We were a trio (Wonderettes). . . Emily, Diane and Lezli Nita Archie (now, Lezli Anetta Valentine)

    Would you know if Anthony Hilliard is still living, as well as his wife Diane Moore Hilliard?

  6. Hello, I don’t know if he is still alive but I will sure find out for you. Also, if anyone out there in the blogosphere knows, let us know.

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