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.
Black Voices, a gospel choral ensemble, was conceived and established by engineering student (Rev.) Reginald C. Dance (class of 1975). In order to nurture his love of music and use his talented tenor voice, Reginald joined an existing University choral ensemble- the all male UVA Glee Club. Whereas his participation was somewhat satisfying, he began to realize that black students were accustomed to or needed to sustain their spiritual growth on this predominately white campus. Reginald began to consider what he could do to provide an outlet that would keep black students in touch with their religious upbringing and ongoing spiritual growth. Seeking spiritual enrichment at a local church in Charlottesville called Holy Temple Church of God in Christ, It’s pastor, then and now, is Rev. C.H. Brown. Reginald established a friendship with one of the sons of the church family, Nehemiah Brown, who sang and played the keyboard. Never formally taught, he played with such fervor that it greatly impacted the congregation’s involvement in each service. Reginald began to brainstorm his plan of creating a small choir that would feed the spiritual and social needs of the University’s black students. The seed that was planted and nurtured over three decades ago has grown to become the strong, successful choir of today.
For more historical detail and information about the choir please visit UVA Black Voices
Born in 1960s Chicago, Dillard’s father abandoned the family, leaving Dillard’s soft-spoken but determined mother Dorothy to chart the path for Dillard and his three siblings. By the time Dillard was in the seventh grade, his mother had moved the family to their own house on the middle-class west side of Chicago Heights.
Although, Dillard began to gain local notice for his musical skills in high school, he had been performing all his life. Since the age of three, Dillard watched church choirs. His Grandma used to stand Little Ricky on top of his baby potty and he would direct and sing. At five years old, he began directing the junior choir at St. Bethel Baptist Church. In 1981 he formed the first gospel choir at Bloom High School. “There were so many church kids there and they liked to sing,” he says. “So, I started a group called Ricky Dillard and Company and we sang at school. One of my teachers, Don Bondurant, said, `you should start a gospel choir’ and I did.”
The next year the choir was featured in Steve Martin’s movie “Leap of Faith.” By the time their second live album “A Holy Ghost Take Over” debuted in 1993, Dillard was a consultant on Whoopie Goldberg’s “Sister Act II” movie and the choir had appeared on a PBS Television Special “Going Home To Gospel” featuring Patti La Belle and Albertina Walker. In 1994 New G won their first Stellar Award for contemporary choir of the year and recorded all the background vocals for Gospel Queen Albertina Walker’s Stellar Award winning album “He Keeps On Blessing Me.” “It was a delight to work with the Queen,” Dillard laughs just thinking of the experience. “She keeps me laughing.” In 1995 New G’s third album “Hallelujah” was released and the choir had its first club hit. They collaborated with Frankie Knuckles and Adeva on “Walkin’” from their “Welcome to the Real World’” album. The Virgin Records single became a Top 20 hit on Billboard magazine’s club chart.