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James Clyde Sellman

was born in Tunapuna, Trinidad and Tobago, to Malcolm and Elitha Addison. Her father was an electrician, and her mother was a schoolteacher and housewife. She later recalled that “my father used to play the guitar, and my brothers were also involved in music, so music was always around me” (Blood, 2013). Her first stage appearance came in 1959 or 1960. Her brother Winston was performing at a community show in Tunapuna and called her out of the audience. She later appeared on television and on Radio Trinidad’s Sunday Serenade. While still a teenager, she made her first recording—a single for Arawak Records, featuring Paul McCartney’s “My Love” backed by her own song, “Tricked and Trapped,” on the B-side.

Her first full-length album, Born to Shine (1976 was released on the Trinidadian label KH Records It featured American style gospel inflected soul music and ...

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Mary Krane Derr

Roman Catholic religious leader, sacred music performer, and social justice activist, was born Bertha J. Bowman in Yazoo City, Mississippi, the granddaughter of slaves and only child of physician Theon Edward Bowman and high school music teacher Mary Esther Coleman. Baptized an Episcopalian, Bertha attended Methodist services. Growing up in segregated, impoverished Canton, Mississippi, she absorbed the spirituality and music of black community elders and her parents' own deep commitments to lives of service. At age ten, she chose to be baptized as a Roman Catholic because she admired the work of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration (FSPA) in Canton. In the face of public uproar, white nuns from this order taught black students at Holy Child Jesus Catholic School. Unable to read after five years of poor quality education in segregated public schools, Bertha finally became literate after transferring to this school in 1949 ...

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Brian Hallstoos

composer, singer, and choir director, was born in Bessemer, Alabama, a town with a rich musical tradition of blues, gospel, and male quartets. His mother, Olivia Bradford Spann, worked as a hairdresser, among other occupations, and his father, Alex Bradford Sr., was an ore miner. Bradford exhibited early musical talent, performing on stage at the age of four. This experience, reinforced by his brief attendance at a church that embraced more exuberant displays of emotion and livelier music than did the Baptist church of his mother (who put a halt to her son's foray), initiated his lifelong love for theater. He soaked up the performance styles of local showmen like Prophet Jones, and national gospel stars like Arizona Dranes, Mahalia Jackson (whom he later accompanied on piano), and Queen C. Anderson who traveled to Bessemer during the town s annual gospel event ...

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Alex Bradford was born in Bessemer, Alabama, where he grew up listening to the country Blues, gospel quartets, and music in the Holiness church. He moved to Chicago, Illinois, after serving in the United States Army in World War II (1939–1945). Bradford honed his singing and composing skills under the tutelage of gospel singers Mahalia Jackson and Roberta Martin. He composed “Since I Met Jesus” and “Let God Abide” for Martin. In 1954 Bradford created the Bradford Specials, an all-male gospel group. The Specials were famous for their colorful robes, soaring falsettos, and dramatic body gestures. Their biggest hit was Bradford's “Too Close to Heaven,” which sold over one million records. By 1960 Bradford had moved to New York, New York, where he began to experiment with gospel theater. Langston Hughes wrote the play Black Nativity for Bradford and Marion Williams in 1961 ...

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Melvin L. Butler

gospel composer and pastor, was born into a family of sharecroppers in Somerville, Tennessee. Although Brewster stemmed from a humble background, he managed to study a wide variety of subjects, including theology, law, and Hebrew. After graduating from Roger Williams College in 1922 he moved to Memphis, Tennessee. By 1930 Brewster had begun a lifelong tenure as pastor of the East Trigg Baptist Church. A major aspect of Brewster's early ministry centered on the founding of theology schools, and these centers of learning helped to establish his voice as one of moral authority and spiritual guidance in religious circles.

By the time Brewster began seriously publishing his songs in the 1940s he had gained over a decade of experience in his pastoral role This experience provided a wellspring of material for songs that often relayed Old Testament stories and were enjoyed by African American congregations across the United States ...

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Dave Laing

(b Philadelphia, 1936; d Schiphol airport, Netherlands, Oct 10, 2010). American soul and gospel singer. He came from a family of Christian ministers and became known as the ‘Wonder-Boy Preacher’ after appearing on the radio in Philadelphia at the age of nine. Burke developed what he called his ‘rock and soul music’ in the early 1960s, recording hit versions of Harlan Howard's country and western song Just out of Reach (Of my Two Empty Arms) and Cry to me. Most of his best recordings were melodramatic ballads such as If You Need Me and Goodbye Baby, although the insistent dance song Everybody needs somebody to love was one of his biggest hits Like Ray Charles Burke helped to shape the soul music genre by adapting the vocal motifs of black American religious music to secular themes This approach was ...

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Nathaniel Friedman

soul singer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1940 (sometimes cited as 1936) to Vince and Josephine Burke. Vince, a Jamaican immigrant, worked as a chicken plucker in a kosher market, while Josephine was an ordained preacher. Burke followed in his mother's footsteps; by age seven he had begun delivering sermons at the church founded by his grandmother, Eleanora A. Moore, and soon became known as the “Wonder Boy Preacher.” At twelve Burke was delivering sermons on the radio and leading tent revivals in Maryland, Virginia, and the Carolinas.

In 1955 Burke proposed that his vocal group the Gospel Cavaliers enter a talent show at the local Liberty Baptist Church His bandmates had other plans however so Burke went as a solo act His performance so impressed the wife of a Philadelphia DJ that she helped Burke secure a recording contract with the New York label Apollo ...

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(b Erie, PA, Dec 2, 1866; d Stamford, CT, Sept 12, 1949). American composer and singer. He received his earliest musical instruction from his mother and later had piano lessons. By the age of 16 he was singing in three church choirs near Erie. In 1892 he won a scholarship to the National Conservatory, New York, where he met Victor Herbert and Antonín Dvořák. His performances of African American spirituals strengthened Dvořák’s conviction that America possessed a rich folksong repertory. In 1894 Burleigh became the baritone soloist at St George's Episcopal Church, New York, a position he held for the next 52 years. Six years later, he became a soloist at Temple Emanu-El, where he sang for 25 years. From 1911 he was a music editor at Ricordi.

Burleigh was one of the first important African American composers born after the Civil War His ...

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composer and spiritual singer, was born in Erie, Pennsylvania. Little is known about his parentage. When he was a boy, his excellent singing voice made Harry, as he was known, a sought-after performer in churches and synagogues in and around his hometown. In 1892, having decided on a career in music, Burleigh won a scholarship to the National Conservatory of Music in New York City. His matriculation coincided with the arrival of the Czech composer Antonín Dvoǒrák, who taught there for four years. Dvoǒrák, who was intensely interested in indigenous American music, found a valuable resource in the young Burleigh, who sang for him various African American spirituals. From Burleigh, Dvoǒrák first heard “Go Down, Moses,” “Roll, Jordan, Roll,” “Were You There,” “Swing Low,” and “Deep River.” When Dvoǒrák set an arrangement of Stephen Foster's “Old Folks at Home,” he dedicated it to Burleigh.

Buoyed by Dvoǒrák s ...

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Born in Erie, Pennsylvania, Harry Burleigh became interested in music from an early age and, although poverty kept him from formal study, he sang at local churches and synagogues. With a scholarship he began studying in 1892 at the National Conservatory of Music in New York, with the conservatory's director Antonín Dvorák. He was selected as the baritone soloist for St. George's Episcopal Church in New York in 1894, a position he held until 1946, and was also the soloist for New York's Temple Emanu-El from 1900 to 1925.

Until Burleigh published his arrangements, Jubilee Songs of the United States of America, in 1916 spirituals had been performed only in choral arrangements By putting the spirituals into the form of art songs they were available to soloists The best known of his arrangements Deep River was said to be the most performed ...

Article

Marshanda Smith

During the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, Shirley Ann Williams Caesar was recognized as one of the premier gospel singers in the world. In a recording career that stretched back to the 1960s, Caesar recorded more than forty albums, participated in sixteen compilations, performed in three gospel musicals, and successfully entered American popular consumer culture. The first gospel singer to win a Grammy award, Caesar won numerous other awards and accolades, including eleven Grammies, thirteen Stellar Gospel Music Awards, eighteen Dove Awards, three Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) gold certifications, a Soul Train Music Award, an Essence Magazine Award for Achievement in the Arts McDonald s Gospelfest Golden Circle Lifetime Achievement Award two NAACP Achievement Awards and a SESAC Lifetime Achievement Award as well as the prestigious James Cleveland Award The recipient of several honorary doctorate degrees and an inductee in the Gospel Music Hall of Fame ...

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Gayle Murchison

gospel singer and evangelist known as the “First Lady of Gospel,” was the tenth of thirteen children born to Hannah and James Caesar in Durham, North Carolina. Her tobacco-worker father, active as a local preacher and singer with his Just Come Four Quartet, died when Caesar was about seven. Her mother, who was partially disabled, ran a small store from the back porch of the house; the children worked to support the family. Educated in the Durham public schools, she played piano and sang with two sisters, a cousin, and occasionally one of her brothers at churches, schools, and other functions. She joined the Charity Singers, her earnings supplementing the family income. Known as Baby Shirley, Caesar joined her pastor Bishop Frizelle Yelverton of Mount Calvary Holy Church when he preached at churches in the Carolinas and Virginia (he also had a weekly local radio show). In 1951 Caesar ...

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Brian Hallstoos

singer, was born in Chicago, the seventh of ten children of Susie and Lonnie Barrett Sr. from Mississippi. Lonnie served as a deacon at the family's church, Morning Star Missionary Baptist, and was a longtime member of the National Bricklayers Union. Susie was a chorister at the church. Barrett sang her first church solo at the age of six. During the 1930s and 1940s three of Delois Barrett's sisters and one brother died from tuberculosis, events that had the effect of strengthening her Christian faith and commitment to sacred music.

Barrett, her younger sister Billie, and her cousin Johnnie Mae Hudson formed the Barrett and Hudson Singers in 1941, directed by an aunt, Mattie Dacus. Soon after graduating from Englewood High in Chicago at the age of sixteen, Barrett joined the Roberta Martin Singers, one of the most accomplished gospel groups in the country. Unlike her friend Dinah ...

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Kip Lornell

gospel composer and teacher, was born in Duck Hill, Mississippi, the daughter of Burrell Campbell, a railroad worker, and Isabella Wilkerson. Lucy's mother was widowed several months after Lucy's birth, and the family soon moved from Carroll County to Memphis, Tennessee, the nearest major city. Lucie and her many siblings struggled to survive on their mother's meager wages, which she earned by washing and ironing clothing. Given the family's insubstantial income, it could afford a musical education for only one child, Campbell's older sister Lora. Lucie eventually learned to play piano, however, through her own persistence, a gifted ear for music, and a little help from Lora.

Lucie Campbell was a bright student who easily mastered elementary school and middle school, winning awards in both penmanship and Latin. Even before graduating from Kortrecht Senior High School (later Booker T. Washington High School as the class valedictorian she ...

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Kip Lornell

Campbell, Lucie E. (1885–03 January 1963), gospel composer and teacher, was born in Duck Hill, Mississippi, the daughter of Burrell Campbell, a railroad worker, and Isabella Wilkerson. Her mother was widowed several months after Lucie’s birth, and the family soon moved from Carroll County to Memphis, the nearest major city. Lucie and her many siblings struggled to survive on their mother’s meager wages, which she earned by washing and ironing clothing. Given the family’s insubstantial income, it could afford a musical education for only one child: Lucie’s older sister Lora. Lucie eventually learned to play piano, however, through her own persistence, a gifted ear for music, and a little help from Lora.

Lucie Campbell was a bright student who easily mastered elementary school and middle school winning awards in both penmanship and Latin Even before graduating from Kortrecht Senior High School later Booker T Washington as the ...

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Mary Anne Hansen

gospel, R&B, and pop singer and songwriter, was born in Cleveland, Ohio. Carr began studying piano at age eight. When she was 13, she entered the Cleveland Musical College to study voice, piano, harmony, and arranging. While in her midteens, she began performing in Baptist churches across the region. At age 20, she moved to Detroit to become a choir director and formed her own group, the Carr Singers, with whom she toured the Midwest and the South. Carr, with her alto voice, also became a member of the famous Wings Over Jordan Choir, who were aired regularly on a popular family radio program in the Cleveland area; from that group sprang the Wilson Jubilee Singers, yet another group with which Carr would perform.

It was with the Carr Singers that she caught the attention of J. W. Alexander of the Pilgrim Travelers a group she also later joined ...

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Wynona Carr was born in Cleveland, Ohio. Her first records were Each Day and Lord Jesus (both 1949), made after she had formed the Carr Singers, a traveling gospel quintet, in 1945. She is best known for “The Ball Game” (1952 one of a series ...

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Steven J. Niven

prison musician, was born to sharecroppers in Greenwood, Mississippi. The names of his parents have not been recorded. Like most children in the Mississippi Delta at that time, Carter assisted his family in bringing in the cotton crop, which was particularly precarious during the severe agricultural depression of the 1930s that drastically reduced the price of cotton. With little or no formal education, Carter left home at age thirteen, in 1939, in search of work. Not finding any, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II—some sources suggest he served in the U.S. Marines—and served on cruisers in the Pacific theater. He returned to Greenwood when the war ended. In 1947 he married his childhood sweetheart, a sharecropper's daughter named Rosie Lee whose maiden name is unknown. The couple had three daughters.

Work was no easier to come by after the war than it had been before ...

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Dave Marsh

(b Albany, GA, Sept 23, 1930; d Beverley Hills, CA, June 10, 2004). American rhythm-and-blues and soul singer, pianist and songwriter. Charles grew up in Greenville, Florida, in a poor black family, and at the age of five he contracted glaucoma; it went untreated and within a year he was blind. At the same age he also began playing the piano. Two years later he went to the St Augustine School for the Deaf and the Blind, where he studied composition and learnt to write music scores in braille. In 1945 Charles was orphaned and left school to form a combo which toured northern and central Florida He then moved to Seattle where he played in jazz trios developing a piano and vocal style heavily influenced by Charles Brown and Nat King Cole It was also at about this time that he ...

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James Sellman

During the 1950s and 1960s Ray Charles was a key figure in the development of Rhythm and Blues (R&B), an African American style that transformed American popular music. Charles and other black R&B musicians gave popular music a broader expressive range and a powerful rhythmic drive, laying the groundwork for rock and roll. In particular, Charles was a leader in incorporating the Gospel Music of the black church into secular music, investing his compositions with propulsive energy and emotional power.

Ray Charles, born Ray Charles Robinson in Albany, Georgia, grew up in Greenville, Florida, where his parents, Aretha and Baily Robinson, had moved when he was three months old. The United States was experiencing the worst years of the Great Depression and Charles recalled Even compared to other blacks we were on the bottom Nothing below us except the ground At the age of four Charles developed ...