Tag Archives: marcel west

RIP: Ora Watkins-Jones (Southwest Michigan State Choir of COGIC)

By Robert M. Marovich Marcel West of Detroit informed JGM of the passing of Mother Ora Watkins-Jones, stalwart lead vocalist for the Southwest Michigan State Choir of the Church of God in Christ, under the direction of Dr. Mattie Moss Clark. Of a choir with more than 100 members, a few names stood out from the pack. Rose Marie Rimson-Brown. LaBarbara Whitehead. Vanessa Bell Armstrong. The Clark Sisters. Donald Vails. And Ora Watkins-Jones. Mother Watkins-Jones is perhaps best known for her vocal contribution, with Rimson-Brown (who passed away earlier this year), on the Southwest Michigan State Choir’s first radio hit, ...

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RIP: Verline Rogers (Meditation Singers)

By Bob Marovich JGM was saddened to learn from Laura Lee and Marcel West that soprano Verline Rogers of the Meditation Singers passed from labor to reward on August 27, 2020, after an extended illness. She was living in Las Vegas at the time of her passing. Rogers was a member of the Meditation Singers of Detroit, a female group headed by Ernestine Rundless. She appears to have joined the group sometime in the early 1960s and recorded with them throughout the decade. In addition to Rogers, other members of the group over the years included R&B stars Della Reese ...

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RIP: Rose Marie Rimson Brown, “Songbird of Michigan”

By Bob Marovich The gospel music community mourns the loss of Rose Marie Rimson Brown. Detroit gospel music historian Marcel West informed JGM of the passing of the beloved soloist of the Southwest Michigan State Choir of the Church of God in Christ, the choir directed by Dr. Mattie Moss Clark. Known as “The Songbird of Michigan,” Mrs. Rimson Brown was lead vocalist on some of the Southwest Michigan State Choir’s most popular songs, most notably “I Thank You Lord” and “I’ll Never Turn Back” (both with Ora Watkins) and “Write My Name Above.” She was also a member of ...

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RIP: Tessie Hill, Gospel Singer

Marcel West of Detroit, Michigan, informed the Journal of Gospel Music that gospel singer Tessie Hill-Ackey passed away on July 28, 2019. Born October 9, 1934, in Monroe, Georgia, Madame Hill migrated at a young age to Detroit, Michigan. She later became lead vocalist of the choir at the church shepherded by her husband, the late Pastor Lonnie Hill. The Original Church of God in Christ Choir, which for a time included a young Rance Allen on guitar, made albums for Savoy Records during the 1960s. Hill’s vivacious, expressive voice led many of the choir’s selections. Hill had a solo ...

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Check Out the Trailer for “Detroit: The Gospel Journey”

By Bob Marovich If you think the story of music in Detroit begins and ends with Motown, think again. Detroit’s gospel music legacy goes back many decades, way before Berry Gordy started Hitsville, USA.  The contributions that Detroiters have made to gospel music continue to enrich the genre today. The story of gospel music in Detroit was just waiting to be told by the right person.  That right person is Marcel West.  With great passion and diligence, West spent years mining archival photos, videos, and other rare ephemera, and interviewing the living legends who took gospel music around the world. The result is a documentary DVD called Detroit: The Gospel Journey. The ...

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Cleveland Cole Dies; Father-in-Law of Dorinda Clark Cole

Marcel West of Detroit reported to the Journal of Gospel Music that Mr. Cleveland Cole, father-in-law of Dorinda Clark Cole and a musician in his own right, passed away Sunday morning. Marcel adds that Cole was the president of the famous Southwest Michigan State Choir of the Church of God in Christ, under the direction of Dr. Mattie Moss Clark. His homegoing arrangements are below:

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