James Phelps, former leader of the Soul Stirrers and founder of the Clefs of Calvary, died Tuesday, October 26, 2010 from complications of diabetes in Inglewood, CA. Phelps was 78 years old. According to the Associated Press, Phelps was born in Shreveport, LA, and moved to Chicago as a teen. Phelps sang with several groups such as the Gospel Songbirds, the Holy Wonders, and the Soul Stirrers before founding the Clefs of Calvary. In 1965, Phelps recorded the soul hit, "Love Is a Five Letter Word."
In 2010, your average young adult gospel music connoisseur will likely rock contemporary tunes from the likes of Tye Tribbett, Myron Butler & Levi , Ton3x, James Fortune or Mary Mary. Some may like the modern traditional sounds and listen to quartets like Lee Williams and the Spiritual QC's, soloists like Vicki Winans, and groups like Kathy Taylor and Favor. Then, there's the select few who like to reach WAY back, I'm talking about dusting off the vinyl and turning on the turntables. They prefer the sounds of The Clara Ward Singers, Mahalia Jackson, The O'Neal Twins, The Gospel Clefs, Rev. Maceo Woods, The Roberta Martin Singers, The Caravans, The Barrett Sisters, The Wings Over Jordan Choir, and Jessy Dixon just to name a few.
The aforementioned artists may sound like your great-grandparents' favorites, but these young twenty-somethings have put a 21st century, or Generation Y or Millennial twist on things by starting YouTube channels, Facebook groups, blogs and websites to showcase their interest in this music and share the sounds with others.
This new series will showcase some of those individuals. You already know a little bit about me, but there are others out there from the same age bracket who appreciate this music as I do, and you need to learn about them.
So, be on the lookout for the interviews in the coming days and weeks!
In times of sadness, a laugh is always a good way to help get through the sorrow. For the many greiving fans of Albertina Walker, here's a video which was broadcasted at Ms. Walker's 80th birthday celebration last year. Ms. Walker regales the viewers with a tale about traveling with The Caravans through segregated America with a humorous ending.
Here is some information regarding tributes, the musical salute and funeral for Albertina Walker.
Saturday, 10/9, 10-11am CT, 88.7FM WLUW-FM, Chicago www.wluw.org Gospel Memories with Bob Marovich Bob Marovich will dedicate his entire 1 hour long program to playing music by The Caravans in honor of Albertina Walker. Don't miss out, tune in or listen live at www.wluw.org. If you happen to listen to the show, be sure to call Bob at 773-508-WLUW to let him know you're tuned in. If you miss out, don't worry. The podcast will be available at www.gospelmemories.com 1-2 days after the original broadcast.
Thursday, 10/14 9am-6pm Public Viewing at West Point Baptist Church 36th and Cottage Grove Chicago, IL 7pm Musical Salute at Apostolic Church of God 63rd and Dorchester Chicago, IL Friday, 10/15 10am Visitation 11am Funeral Service West Point Baptist Church 36th and Cottage Grove Chicago, IL Senior Pastor Rev. Dr. L. Bernard Jakes officiating
With a heavy heart, The Golden Era Gospel Blog has sad news to report from Chicago this morning from Rev. Stanley Keeble by way of Ronald Greer and via the Yolanda Adams Morning Show. The legendary Albertina Walker has died at age 81. Ms. Walker passed around 4:30am Friday morning from respiratory problems. Ms. Walker's career spanned nearly six decades. In the late 1940s, Ms. Walker joined Robert Anderson's gospel caravan, later renamed Robert Anderson and The Caravans. In 1952, Anderson left the group, and Ms. Walker became the leader of the group. As leader of The Caravans, Ms. Walker took a more laid back role and helped to launch the solo careers of Caravans alumni such as James Cleveland, Bessie Griffin, Cassietta George, Loleatta Holleway, Shirley Caesar, Inez Andrews and Dorothy Norwood. Ms. Walker released her first solo album in the mid 1960s, but continued to stay as the lead of The Caravans until 1976. During a period spanning from the late 1970s to the late 1990s, Ms. Walker enjoyed a string of hits such as "I Can Go to God In Prayer", "I've Got a Feeling", "Hallelujah, This is The Way to Sing Praises to our God", and "I'm Still Here." In 2006, Ms. Walker and The Caravans (Inez Andrews, Dorothy Norwood and Delores Washington) reunited to record the "Paved the Way" album for Malaco records, which was the first all new album by The Caravans to be released in 30 years. A second album with The Caravans titled "My Soul Says Yes", was set to be released later this year.
Commentary: If time has taught us anything within the Golden Era Gospel circle, it is that some groups from that era cease to operate without their leader (with exception to many quartets). For example, when Roberta Martin died in 1969, The Roberta Martin Singers tried to soldier on without their leader, but did not make it past 1971. If The Caravans should cease to sing or record after Ms. Walker's death, or if they shall continue strongly with another member taking the reins in the absence of Ms. Walker, we can still say Thank You, Lord for the ministry of Albertina Walker, and Thank You, Lord for the ministry The Caravans, from their days with Robert Anderson until this present time.
To celebrate their 65th birthday, Ebony decided to recreate 12 of their most legendary covers with modern day singers and entertainers. To recreate their cover featuring Mahalia Jackson, Ebony turned to modern day gospel vocalist Yolanda Adams. You can see the recreation in this post.