A native of Fort Worth, Texas, Franklin was raised by his great aunt Gertrude, having been abandoned as a baby by his mother. Gertrude collected and resold aluminum cans to raise money for Kirk to take piano lessons from the age of 4. Kirk excelled in music, able to read and write music by ear. He received his first contract offer at the age of 7, which his aunt turned down. He joined the church choir and became music director of the Mt. Rose Baptist Church adult choir, at the age of eleven. Despite his strict religious upbringing, Franklin rebelled in his teenage years, and in an attempt to keep him out of trouble, his great aunt arranged an audition for him at a professional youth conservatory associated with a local university. He was accepted and while his life seemed to be on track for a while, the announcement of a girlfriend’s pregnancy and his eventual expulsion from school for behavioral problems proved otherwise.
After the shooting death of a friend, Franklin returned to the church, where he began to direct the choir once again. He also co-founded a gospel group, The Humble Hearts, which recorded one of Franklin’s compositions and got the attention of gospel music legend Milton Biggham. Impressed, Bigham enlisted him to lead the DFW Mass Choir in a recording of Franklin’s song “Every Day with Jesus.” This led to Bigham hiring Franklin (at just twenty years old) to lead the choir at the 1990 Gospel Music Workshop of America Convention, a major industry gathering.
Influenced by the preaching style of her mentor and spiritual mom Pastor Shirley Caesar, Dorinda preaches and sings more fearlessly today than ever before about overcoming trials and tribulations.
She’s been called “the Rose of Gospel,” “the church girl,” and “evangelist” but more than anything else, three time Grammy award winner Dorinda Clark Cole is a fired up sister for Christ and one of the most gifted vocalists in the music world today.
Professor Wilbur Belton hailing from the Nation’s Capital, has carved out an illustrious musical career that’s been highlighted by work with gospel’s finest including Vickie Winans, Marvin Sapp and Richard Smallwood, and meny award recognitions.
In 2005, a friend suggested that Belton record one of his choirs during the Labor Day Weekend Youth Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and LADWEC was born. Originally, the group consisted of 59 vocalists, but due to travel constraints, LADWEC, with members from another gospel group Chosen, was merged and eventually whittled down to a 22-member ensemble.
Albertina Walker was born in Chicago, Illinois. By the age of four she had begun singing in the Children’s Choir of West Point Baptist Church. By the age of 14, Albertina Walker was a member of the Williams Singers and also toured with the Willie Webb and Robert Anderson Singers. By the age of 22 she formed her own group, the Caravans, which helped launch the careers of Evangelist Dorothy Norwood, Inez Andrews, Shirley Caesar, Delores Washington, Cassieta George, and Reverend James Cleveland.
In 1975 Albertina Walker recorded her first solo album, Put A Little Love In Your Heart. By 1999 she had recorded over sixty albums, solo and with other artists.
Albertina Walker, being committed to the preservation of gospel music, founded the Albertina Walker Foundation for the Creative and Performing Arts in1998. The foundation offers financial assistance in the form of scholarships to college students who plan on working with gospel music.
Albertina Walker is the recipient of many awards and honors, including: a 1995 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Album (Songs Of The Church); two Stellar awards; and several Gospel Music Workshop of America Excellence awards.
In 1994, Albertina Walker was honored at the Chicago Gospel Festival with a street being renamed in her honor, and the placement of a bench bearing her name in Chicago’s Grant Park. In 1997, she was conferred an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree by the Chicago Theological Seminary, an institution of the University of Chicago.
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE NINETY-FIRST GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, issued House Bill. In the form of a resolution, congratulating Albertina Walker on the occasion of her 70th birthday and honoring her career accomplishments as a gospel musician. The bill was filed with the clerk on August 23, 1999 and officially adopted November 18, 1999.
Cassietta Baker George was born January 23, 1929 in Memphis, TN to Pastor Peter A. Baker and Cassietta Epps Baker.
Life changed in 1953 after moving to Chicago, IL where Cassietta caught the eye of the late Rev. James Cleveland. At his invitation, Cassietta became a member of the now world famous Caravans at that time featuring Johnerine Davis, Louise McDonald-Ross, Albertina Walker and James Cleveland. Years later, the group featured Dorothy Norwood, Inez Andrews, Josephine Howard, Shirley Caesar and Dolores Washington. As a member of The Caravans, Cassietta wrote and led over 40 songs, bursting the group into the number one most iconic gospel group of all times. Her most noted recordings in The Caravan legacy were Will My Jesus Be Waiting, Remember Me Oh Lord, Let’s Break Bread Together, One Baptism, To Whom Shall I Turn, I’m Ready to Serve the Lord, Seek Ye the Lord, Jesus and Me, My Religion, Walk Around Heaven All Day and I’m Going To Work Until My Day Is Done. Source
Cassietta George wrote 108 songs, recorded 16 albums during her solo career, and was nominated for two Grammy Awards.