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Melvin L. Butler

gospel singer, composer, and pastor, was born Andrae Edward Crouch in Los Angeles, California. As a child, his musical talents were cultivated under the church ministry of his parents, Benjamin and Catherine Crouch. He also benefited from attending Pentecostal services at the Emmanuel Church of God in Christ, where his great-uncle, Bishop Samuel M. Crouch, was the pastor. Crouch's upbringing was enhanced not only by his experiences singing and playing in church but also through his exposure to an array of musical styles such as jazz, blues, rock and roll, and European classical music. At the age of fourteen, he drew from these multiple influences to pen his first composition, “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power,” which would become a classic gospel piece (Darden, 276–278).

During his teenage years he formed vocal ensembles with several of his siblings most notably his twin sister Sandra He labeled one ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

music teacher and conductor, bass singer, Civil War veteran, and active member of the Grand Army of the Republic, author of the first African Methodist Episcopal Church hymnal (working with Bishop James C. Embry), was born in Eulesstown, New Jersey. The 1860 census lists several free families of African descent named Layton, but none have been definitively identified as his. Charles and Harriet Layton, of Warrenville, may have been his parents, but the ages of their children (often the subject of error by census takers) are not a definitive match.

Layton enlisted in the U.S. Navy on 25 August 1864 at Jersey City, giving his occupation as laborer/farmer. Assigned the rating of Landsman, he served on the vessels Larkspur and O.M. Pettit Both were tugboats assigned to the South Atlantic Blocking Squadron towing and repairing ships of the squadron while gathering intelligence on shore and ...

Article

David Bradford

singer, pianist, arranger, teacher, writer, and assistant director of the original Fisk Jubilee Singers, was born in Nashville, Tennessee, to slave parents Simon Sheppard, a liveryman, and Sarah Hannah Sheppard, a domestic servant.

On 22 December 1871, ten African American students from Fisk University in Nashville—all but two former slaves—stood before the large, wealthy white congregation of Plymouth Church in Brooklyn and forever transformed American music. On a mission to raise money for their destitute school—formed by the American Missionary Association in 1866 to train black teachers the Jubilee Singers had struggled across the eastern United States performing choral arrangements of slave spirituals to small and largely uncomprehending white audiences On the verge of defeat the group was invited to sing at Plymouth Church by its pastor Henry Ward Beecher the most influential religious figure in America Beecher and his congregation were ...