Georgia Louis: Singer, Pioneer Gospel Television Host, Dies July 3

TBGB thanks Dwayne Lightsey for alerting us to the passing of Georgia Louis.  Georgia was one of the first gospel artists I had the opportunity to speak with, and she was simply a lovely human being. 

Here is her complete obituary, as posted on the Dignity Memorial – Leo P. Gallagher & Son Funeral Home website:

Georgia May Louis

Born on June 20, 1932 passed away peacefully in her sleep on July 3, 2014. 

Born to Samuel and Anna Branch of Delmopolous, Alabama. She was preceded by her parents, 11 siblings and her only child Joseph W. Louis. She moved to Connecticut in the late 1950s and was discovered while singing in a community choir called The Warble-airs by Carlo Martignoni. He had her sing at the Italian Festival  Stamford, Ct, then all over the Tri-State area. While being the opening act for Louis Armstrong at Freedom Land in NYC, Mr. Armstrong came up to her after a show and said, “I’ve been all over the world, worked with countless singers and musicians, but you touch a part of my soul that no one has been able to reach. I would like you to be my Musical God-Child.” And with that, he gave her his trumpet mouthpiece to seal the deal. They became very close friends. Whenever they were in town together, they would hang out at his home with his family or meet at various places with Mrs. Armstrong. 

Shortly thereafter, Ms. Louis was asked to host a new television show called “TV Gospel Time.” She became not only the first black woman, but the first woman period, to host a nationally syndicated television show. It aired out of NYC from WOR-TV Channel 9 in the mid 1960’s. The Rev. James Cleveland had his first television appearance on that program and it featured acts from all over the country. A young singer named Aretha Franklin, traveling with her father Rev. C.L. Franklin, was Miss Georgia’s opening act on many occasions.

She travelled extensively through the United States, Canada and Europe singing Gospel and Spiritual music. She recorded six singles, most popular of which was “Walk With Me Lord,” and “Walk Softly Children” was very popular in Israel. Her brother Dupree was stationed in Vietnam and had the troops wake up to “Walk With Me Lord” every day. Ms. Louis performed with such great artists as Dinah Washington, The Staple Singers, Shirley Ceasar, The Caravans and Mahalia Jackson (who Ms. Louis beat out in 1963 for “Top Female Vocalist of the Year” by the AME Zion Church… of course she said it was just a “gimme” because who could do that?!!?).She had triumphant performances at the New York World’s Fair, Lincoln Center, The Tonight Show, the Ed Sullivan Show, the State Theater in Philadelphia (she asked me to mention that one, as she saved someone’s life on the way to the theater. She got blood all over her gown and had to run back to the hotel to get another one.). 

She shared the bill at the Apollo Theater with James Brown, Jackie Wilson, Brooke Benton, The Jackson Five, Dinah Washington, among others. A young Whitney Houston opened for her as well. Among her busy travel schedule, she worked as a nurses aid in both Stamford and Greenwich Hospitals. She was accompanied by her musical director and dear friend Dr. William H. Collins, Jr. of NYC, Musical Director of Mt Hermon Baptist Church, Bronx, NY. 

She is survived by many nieces and nephews and her long time friend, Mr. Pierre Guertin. Her Going Home ceremony will be held at Leo P. Gallagher& Son Funeral Home, 2900 Summer St., Stamford, CT. on July 10, 2014 203-327-1313. The Viewing is at 10:30 am and the service will be at 12 PM. Reception will follow at Madonia Restaurant, 1297 Long ridge Rd. Stamford, CT after the grave site.

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.

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