Tag Archives: Checker Records

RIP: Pastor Steve Hawkins

By Robert M. Marovich A. Jeffrey LaValley informed JGM of the passing of his friend, gospel singer and pastor Steve Hawkins. Born in Waco, Texas, on Valentine’s Day, 1953 (“That’s why I’m such a sweetheart!” he chuckled during our 2014 interview), Hawkins was raised in Cleveland, Ohio, where his father was pastor of the Jerusalem Church of God in Christ. As a youngster, Hawkins learned the finer points of singing from his mother. His uncle and aunt, Dorothy and Lawrence Abrams, took him on the road to open for the Original Five Blind Boys, in which Lawrence was a member ...

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RIP: Leo Coney (Violinaires, Gospel Classics)

By Bob Marovich JGM learned from multiple sources of the passing of Leo Coney, a quartet singer formerly with the Violinaires and the Gospel Classics. He transitioned to glory on August 2 around 5:00 p.m. Coney was one of the original Violinaires. The quartet was formed in 1952 in Detroit, Michigan, by Coney, Isaiah “Lil Shot” Jones, and Wilson DeShields. Arthur “Bob” Beatty, who served with the Heavenly Gospel Singers and the Sensational Nightingales, was another early member. According to Beatty, the Violinaires sought initially to replicate the sound of the Heavenly Gospel Singers. Eventually, however, their emphasis on treble ...

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Another Soldier Gone: Pastor James R. McClain

By Bob Marovich The Journal of Gospel Music learned of yet another passing, that of Pastor James R. McClain of the Willing Four. Here is a quick history of the Willing Four, much of which comes from McClain’s own unpublished history of the gospel quartet from Chicago. Chicago’s Willing Four was organized in 1951 in the home of Deacon and Mrs. Renzy and Linda Beene. Founding members of the quartet were Isaiah and Sylvester Beene, W. C. and Arthur Smith, Jake Akins, and Clifton Love. First tenor George Hudson joined in 1955. The quartet sang a cappella until 1956, when ...

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