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Tribute to John P. Kee

May 30th, 2011 by admin

The Prince of Gospel

John P. Kee

Called the “Crown Prince of Gospel”, is a pastor, singer, and songwriter. He has formed several mass choirs and taught many gospel workshops. His albums are often a mix of traditional and contemporary gospel styles, with strongly Christian lyrics. He stopped performing in 1996 to form a church in the neighborhood where he became addicted to drugs as a youth, but has since recorded several albums and received many awards. John P. Kee was born the 15th out of 16 children in Durham, North Carolina. At an early age he began to develop his musical talent both instrumentally and vocally. He attended the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem and at 14, he and his brothers Wayne and Al moved to California.

During this time, he began playing with various groups such as Cameo and Donald Byrd and the Blackbyrds. After having a hard time adjusting in California, he left and moved to Charlotte, North Carolina only to find himself living in a part of the city known for its violence and drug activities. After watching one of his friends being murdered in a drug deal gone bad, he rededicated his life back to God during a visitation to a revival meeting. Kee says that it was during a trip to Michigan with his choir that he received a calling from God to be a preacher. Kee was in his mid-twenties when he became an ordained minister. In 1995, while ministering in Ohio, he received a prophetic vision and went forward with the building of a Fellowship Center in Charlotte which could minister to the people in the community. He officially founded the New Life Fellowship Center where he became and remains the senior pastor. Ironically, the church is located in the same area where he had once led a life of crime and drugs.

It is rumored that Pastor Kee does not accept a salary from the church, but is merely satisfied in knowing that the preached word of God has been brought forth. In the mid 1980’s, Kee formed a community choir in Charlotte known as the New Life Community Choir or “NLCC.” Over time the choir grew in popularity and has continued to travel throughout the area. The choir also includes some of Kee’s own children.
In 2007 Kee was inducted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame. He also has an album, Nothing But Worship, which features the smash hit Right Now Praise.

Bio source:wikipedia.org

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Tribute to Blind Willie Johnson (1897 -1945)

April 25th, 2011 by Black Gospel Choir
Blind Willie Johnson

William Johnson was both a singer and guitarist whose music straddled the border between blues and spirituals. While the lyrics of all of his songs were religious, his music drew from both sacred and blues traditions. Among musicians, he is considered one of the greatest slide or bottleneck guitarists, as well as one of the most revered figures of depression-era gospel music. His music is distinguished by his powerful bass thumb-picking and gravelly false-bass voice, with occasional use of a tenor voice.
Johnson remained poor until the end of his life, preaching and singing in the streets of Beaumont, Texas to anyone who would listen. A city directory shows that in 1945, a Rev W J Johnson, undoubtedly Blind Willie, operated the House of Prayer at 1440 Forrest Street, Beaumont, Texas. This is the same address listed on Blind Willie’s death certificate. In 1945, his home burned to the ground. With nowhere else to go, Johnson lived in the burned ruins of his home, sleeping on a wet bed in the August/September Texas heat. He lived like this until he contracted malaria and died. In a later interview his wife, Angeline, said she tried to take him to a hospital but they refused to admit him because he was black, while other sources report that, according to Johnson’s wife, his refusal was due to his blindness. Although there is some dispute as to where his exact grave location is, in 2009, the Blanchette Cemetery was officially located by two researchers. Members of the Beaumont community and researchers are committed to preserving it.

source:wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_Willie_Johnson

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Tribute to Willie Mae Ford Smith (1904 – 1994)

February 28th, 2011 by Black Gospel Choir
willie_mae
Based in St. Louis, Missouri she was one of the early associates of Thomas A. Dorsey and an innovator in gospel style, introducing the “song and sermonette” style that other singers, such as Shirley Caesar and Edna Gallmon Cooke made popular. She married in 1929 and, shortly after that, began traveling in musical revivals. Dorsey heard her in 1931 and asked to help him found the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses, his organization devoted to spreading gospel music by training singers, choirs and composers. Smith became the principal singing teacher for the NCGCC as head of its Soloists’ Bureau in 1936. Among her students were Brother Joe May, who gave her the affectionate name “Mother”. Teaming with Roberta Martin, Smith demonstrated how to make even familiar hymns such as “Jesus Loves Me” into deeper personal statements by slurs, note bending and other personalized adornments. Smith was also a major figure within the Baptist Church as the Director of its Education Department of the National Baptist Convention before she became a member of a Pentecostal denomination. She considered herself a preacher and imbued her singing and sermonettes with an evangelical fervor. She was noted for her finesse, control and subtlety, but could also, like her protégé Brother Joe May, belt out hymns.

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Tribute – The Dixie Hummingbirds

December 31st, 2010 by Black Gospel Choir
Dixie Hummingbirds

Formed in 1928 in Greenville, South Carolina, by James B. Davis and his classmates, they sang in local churches until they finished school, then started touring throughout the South.

Lead singer Ira Tucker joined the group in 1938 at age 13, and they signed with Decca Records. In addition to his formidable vocal skills, Tucker introduced the energetic showmanship – running through the aisles, jumping off stage, falling to his knees in prayer – copied by many quartets that followed. Tucker also took the lead in the stylistic innovations adopted by the group, combining gospel shouting and subtle melismas with the syncopated delivery made popular by The Golden Gate Quartet, as well as adventuresome harmonies, which the group called “trickeration”, in which Paul Owens or another member of the group would pick up a note just as Tucker left off. The group relocated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the 1940s.

During the years, a number of talented singers starred in the group—their bass, William Bobo (known as Willie Bobo), baritone Beachy Thompson, James Walker (who replaced Owens), and Claude Jeter, who went on to star for The Swan Silvertones. The Hummingbirds added a guitarist, Howard Carroll, who added even more propulsive force to their high-flying vocals.
The group now consists of William Bright (vocals), Carlton Lewis, III (vocals), Cornell Mcknight (bass vocals), Torrey Nettles (drums/vocals), and Lyndon Baines Jones (guitar & vocals).
In 1973 The group sang the backup vocals on Paul Simon’s “Loves Me Like a Rock”, and “Tenderness”, from his album “There Goes Rhymin’ Simon”. Ira Tucker, Sr. died due to complications from heart disease on the morning of June 24, 2008, at the age of 83. The group will go on, thereby preserving the rich legacy left by Tucker, James Davis, William Bobo, Beachey Thompson, James Walker, Howard Carroll, et al., with possible new additions to their personnel down the road.

bio source:wikipedia.org

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Tribute to Mahalia Jackson (1911- 1972)

November 30th, 2010 by Black Gospel Choir
mahalia jackson

Artist: Michael J. Singletary

Mahalia Jackson is viewed by many as the pinnacle of gospel music. Her singing began at the age of four in her church, the Plymouth Rock Baptist Church in New Orleans. Mahalia was the third child to John A. Jackson, a barber and preacher, and Charity Clark, who died at the age of 25 when Mahalia was four years old. In 1916, her father sent her to live with her aunt Mahalia “Duke” Paul. Aunt Duke didn’t allow secular music in her house, but Mahalia’s cousin would sneak in records. Even at a very young age, Mahalia had a booming voice and she would sing hymns and old-time gospel tunes around the house.

Her early style blended the freedom and power of gospel with the stricter style of the Baptist Church. As a teenager, through her cousin’s aid, she was influenced by such famous singers as Bessie Smith, Ida Cox, Enrico Caruso and Ma Rainey, and her own style began to emerge into a more soulful expression. In 1927, at the age of 16, she moved to Chicago and found work as a domestic. But soon after, she found plenty of work as a soloist at churches and funerals after joining the Greater Salem Baptist Church choir. Her unique contralto voice caught the attention of many small churches from coast to coast. Larger, more formal churches frowned upon her energetic renditions of songs. After performing with the Prince Johnson Singers, she began recording for Decca Records in 1937. When the records did not sell as well as expected, she became a beautician. However, after five years of touring with composer Thomas A. Dorsey at gospel tents and churches, Mahalia’s popularity and success garnered her another record contract, this time with Apollo Records, from 1946 to 1954. She then switched to Columbia Records, from 1954 to 1967, where she attained broad recognition as a spiritual singer.

From the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott until her death, Mahalia was very prominent in the Civil Rights Movement. Very close with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., she often performed at his rallies–even singing an old slave spiritual before his famous “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington in 1963. She also sang at his funeral five years later.
Despite her doctors ordering her to slow down, Mahalia refused and collapsed while on tour in Munich in 1971. She died of heart failure on January 27, 1972, at her home in Evergreen Park, Illinois.

 

 

Bio Credits: www.lkwdpl.org/wihohio/jack-mah.htm

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