By Robert M. Marovich
The Journal of Gospel Music is saddened to report that Philadelphia’s longtime gospel announcer Linwood Heath passed away.
Here is a bio from the Gospel Highway 11 website:
Linwood is a native Philadelphian and got his first taste of Gospel music as a teenager, while singing with the Savoy Singers. He began broadcasting in 1965 on WDAS in Philly. He was trained and mentored by the legendary Louise Williams. He left broadcasting in 1970 and found a church home, the New Gethsemane Baptist Church in South Philadelphia. There he organized the Youth Community Choir and organized the Willing Workers.
In 1972 he was asked to co-host a black Gospel TV Show “Deep River” on Channel 29. This hour long show featured local artists and ministers.
In 1982 he was persuaded to return to radio by Basil Callamore who started a daily show, Gospel Highway on WYIS, Linwood came on board in the mornings.
In 1989, the Pennsylvania Historical Society presented him with the Martin Luther Medal of Freedom, for his program Great Moments in Gospel. For several years Linwood has given lectures at colleges and universities on the history of Gospel Music.
In May 2001, Emmy Award Producers, Jim Brown and Sam Pollard included Linwood in their 4 part series American Roots Music. The documentary aired nationwide on PBS. He still conducts in depth interviews with pioneer and current artists and is an aid record collector with thousands of recordings dating back to the 20’s.
In addition to hosting the traditional gospel music show Precious Memories on radio station Gospel Highway 11, Linwood appeared in Robert Clem’s award-winning 2017 documentary How They Got Over, on WXPN’s The Roots of Rock and Soul, and in this author’s 2019 book, Peace Be Still: How James Cleveland and the Angelic Choir Created a Gospel Classic. His interviews with dozens of gospel artists, most of whom he knew personally, helped preserve the genre’s history.
For more on Linwood, read Rachel Ishikawa’s 2018 interview for WXPN: http://xpngospelroots.org/riding-the-gospel-highway/
I met Linwood Heath for the first time at the Gospel Music Workshop of America. Since then, he and I guested on each other’s radio shows and kept in touch about happenings in the gospel music industry, especially in relation to the legends and pioneers. Linwood Heath made estimable contributions to gospel music history since he entered Louise Williams’s studio in 1963. He will be missed by all of us who knew him and by those who listened to Precious Memories.
Homegoing details will be forthcoming when they are made available.