Black History Music Month – 2022 – Gospel
TLSC Radio celebrates Black History Music Month. Read the stories of some of the greatest legends of our time.
Walker was born in Chicago, Illinois, on August 8, 1929, to Ruben and Camille Coleman Walker. Her mother was born in Houston County, Georgia, and her father in Bibb County, Georgia. They moved to Chicago between 1917 and 1920 where they lived out their lives. Albertina had four siblings born in Bibb County and four born in Chicago. Albertina began singing in the youth choir at the West Point Baptist Church at an early age, and joined several Gospel groups thereafter, including Pete Williams Singers, The Willie Webb Singers and the Robert Anderson Singers. Albertina was greatly influenced by Mahalia Jackson, her friend and confidante, whom Jackson took on the road when Albertina was just a teenager. “Mahalia used to kid me. She’d say, ‘Girl, you need to go sing by yourself,'” recalled Walker in a 2010 Washington Post interview. Albertina Walker did just that. In 1951, she formed the group called The Caravans. She was popularly referred to as the “Queen of Gospel Music”, initially by such notables as the late Reverend James Cleveland and Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr, for her outstanding achievements within the genre after the death of Mahalia Jackson in 1972. In the early 1950s Walker founded her own Gospel music group The Caravans, enlisting fellow singers from The Robert Anderson Singers (Ora Lee Hopkins, Elyse Yancey and Nellie Grace Daniels). The Caravans’ membership has included: James Cleveland, Bessie Griffin, Shirley Caesar, Dorothy Norwood, Inez Andrews, Loleatta Holloway, John McNeil, Cassietta George, and Delores Washington. Her discovery of these artists resulted in the nickname “Star Maker”. Walker retired The Caravans in the late 1960s, once she began performing as a solo artist.
To date, she has recorded over 60 albums, including gold selling hits “Please Be Patient With Me”, “I Can Go to God in Prayer”, “The Best Is Yet to Come”, “Impossible Dream”, and “Joy Will Come”. Walker sang for United States presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and South Africa’s president, Nelson Mandela. In 1995, Walker joined Thelma Houston, CeCe Peniston, Phoebe Snow and Lois Walden to record a gospel album in common, Good News in Hard Times, as the quintet called The Sisters of Glory.
Walker recorded a reunion album with her group The Caravans entitled Paved the Way, which was released by Malaco Records on September 5, 2006. Performers included Walker, Dorothy Norwood, Inez Andrews and Delores Washington. The album was dubbed by Billboard magazine as one of the most memorable releases of 2006 and entered the Billboard charts in the top ten and remained in the top forty for sixteen weeks. Paved the Way was nominated for a Grammy, Dove, Soul Train Music Award and two Stellar Awards. She died on October 8, 2010, shortly after her 81st birthday.
Shirley Ann Caesar-Williams (born October 13, 1938), in Durham, NC known professionally as Shirley Caesar, is an American gospel singer whose career has spanned seven decades. She has won 11 Grammys in addition to Dove Awards and Stellar Awards; Caesar is known as the “First Lady of Gospel Music” and “The Queen of Gospel Music”. She began recording with Federal Records at the age of 12 in 1951.
Caesar has released over forty albums. She has participated in over 16 compilations and three gospel musicals, Mama I Want to Sing, Sing: Mama 2 and Born to sing: Mama 3. She is also the creator of the #unameit challenge, which occurred during one of her song sermonettes. Caesar’s credits also include a series of commercials for MCI Communications and numerous awards for her recordings. She has won 11 Grammy Awards (including The Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award), 14 Stellar Awards, 15 Dove Awards, 1 RIAA gold certification, an Essence Award, McDonald’s Golden Circle Lifetime Achievement Award, NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award, SESAC Lifetime Achievement Award, Rhapsody & Rhythm Award from the National Museum of African American Music, as well as induction into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. According to SoundScan she has sold 2.2 million albums since 1991. She has made several notable appearances including the televised Live from Disney World Night of Joy, the Gospel According to VH1, and a White House performance for President George Bush. She gave a speech on the evolution of gospel music to the US Treasury Department. In 2017, Caesar was honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award from The Recording Academy.
Caesar first began singing and performing for family and friends. She began singing as Baby Shirley Caesar all over the Carolinas as invitations poured in. She could only perform on weekends due to being in school during the weekdays. Her professional music career began in 1958 at 19, when she approached Albertina Walker about joining The Caravans, one of the most popular gospel groups at that time. Albertina wanted the vocally talented young Caesar in her group after hearing her sing a solo. Caesar decided to halt her education to join the group. Caesar recorded and performed with Albertina Walker, Cassietta George, Inez Andrews, Delores Washington, Josephine Howard, Eddie Williams, and James Herndon while in the Caravans. Her biggest hit with the Caravans was the song “Sweeping Through the City” followed by “No Coward Soldier”. After eight years with the Caravans, she decided to leave after being offered a solo recording contract with Hob Records. Her first LP on the Hob label was entitled I’ll Go, backed up by the Institutional Radio Choir and includes the classics “Oh Peter, Don’t Be Afraid” and “Choose Ye This Day”. Other hits soon followed with recordings such as “Satan, We’re Gonna Tear Your Kingdom Down”, “God’s Not Dead, He’s Yet Alive” and the classic “Don’t Drive Your Mama Away”. In 1971, she won her first Grammy Award for her recording of “Put Your Hand in the Hand of the Man”, and in 1975 her recording of the song “No Charge” became an instant hit and her first gold record. Although she had success, she wanted to reach larger audiences and felt this wasn’t being achieved with Hob Records; she decided not to renew her record contract with them which ended that same year. To reach more people with her music, Caesar signed with a secular record label called Roadshow Records in 1977 and released the debut album entitled First Lady. The producer of the album titled the album First Lady because Caesar was the first female to ever record on the label. The album contained songs with strong gospel lyrics, but many within the gospel community felt that the music itself was “too worldly,” and many gospel DJ’s refused to play it on their radio station. One song, however, “Faded Rose”, later became a Caesar classic. Overall, the album sold poorly, but the “First Lady” title caught on within the gospel industry, and concert announcers, DJ’s and gospel promoters everywhere started introducing her as “The First Lady of Gospel Music”, a title that has been associated with her ever since. The second and final album she recorded for Roadshow was From the Heart in 1978; it was poorly received for the same reason. Caesar searched for a gospel label and finally decided to sign with Word Records in 1980 and went on to win several more Grammy Awards during the next several years and beyond. She stayed with Word for many years and recorded some of the biggest hits of her career such as “God’s Got It All in Control”, “Hold My Mule” (which later went viral as a Thanksgiving-related Internet meme under the title “You Name It”), “He’s Working It Out for You”, “Jesus, I Love Calling Your Name” and “You’re Next in Line for a Miracle”.
Between 1981 and 1995, she received seven Dove Awards for Black Gospel Album of the Year for Live at the G.M.W.A., Celebration, Christmasing, Sailin‘, Live … In Chicago, Go and Rejoice. She received two Black Gospel Song of the Year Awards for “He’s Working It Out for You” and “Hold My Mule”. She has performed with such performers as Patti LaBelle, Whitney Houston, Dorothy Norwood, Faith Evans, Dottie Peoples, Arnold Houston, Kim Burrell, John P. Kee, Kirk Franklin, Tonex, and Tye Tribbett among others. Caesar is also an actress. She acted in movies, such as Why Do Fools Fall in Love (1998) with Larenz Tate and Little Richard, Fighting Temptations (2003) with Beyoncé and Cuba Gooding Jr., and The Unseen (2005) with Steve Harris. She also acted in an episode of The Good News in 1998 as Aunt Shirley. Caesar appeared on The Parkers in 2004.
In 2014, her song “Teach Me Master”, which originally appeared on her 1972 album Get Up My Brother was sampled by Dutch producer Bakermat as “Teach Me”; it reached number 22 on the UK Singles Chart. In 2016, she found herself back at the very top of the gospel Billboard chart with her newest CD release Fill This House. Caesar is a recipient of a 1999 National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, which is the United States’ highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. She was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2000. Caesar was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2010. She performed for President Barack and Michelle Obama at the White House in 2015 along with Aretha Franklin.
In May 2016, the National Museum of African American Music honored Caesar with the Rhapsody & Rhythm Award in Nashville in advance of the planned 2018 opening of the historic museum.
The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce proudly honored gospel singer Shirley Caesar with the 2,583rd star of the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Tuesday, June 28, 2016.
After many years Caesar finally accomplished her dream of completing her education. She returned to school and graduated with honors from Shaw University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration in 1984. She also spent time studying at the Divinity School of Duke University and has received honorary doctorates from Shaw University and Southeastern University.
Caesar married Bishop Harold I. Williams in June 1983. The couple were co-pastors of the 1,500-member Mount Calvary Word of Faith Church in Raleigh, North Carolina until his death on July 4, 2014. While she does not have children of her own, she has two stepchildren from her husband. Caesar is a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority. She cites her mother as a strong influence in her decision to give so selflessly of herself. Caesar has committed a sizable portion of all concert sales to her outreach ministries. Recently she has cut back on preaching and has appointed an executive pastor at her church, and he provides weekly sermons to the congregation while Caesar serves as senior pastor, but Caesar continues to record and perform in concert all over the country. She also continues to hold her annual outreach ministries conference. The outreach ministry provides food, clothing, shelter, toys for children, and financial assistance to those in need. She opened an eponymous store and uses the profits to help others during the holiday season. When asked what would she still like to accomplish she says, “I would like to do more acting…”.
The Hawkins Family
Walter Lee Hawkins (May 18, 1949 – July 11, 2010) was an American gospel singer, songwriter, composer, and pastor. An influential figure in urban contemporary gospel music, his career spanned more than four decades. He was consecrated to the bishopric in 2000. The 7th of 8 children born to the late Dan Lee and Mamie Vivian Hawkins, Walter Lee Hawkins was born on May 18, 1949, in Oakland, California. Hawkins was the brother of Edwin Hawkins (d. 2018), Marava Ladale Hawkins (d. 1988), Carol Lee Hawkins (d. 2020), Feddie Joyce Hawkins, Jervis Ersell Hawkins (d. 1952), Daniel Lee Hawkins (Marcia) and Lynette Gail Hawkins-Stephens (Reginald). Bishop Hawkins was married to Tramaine Hawkins from 1971 until their divorce in 1994. They had two children, a son Walter Lee “Jamie” Hawkins, Jr., who is married to Myiia “Sunny” Davis-Hawkins, and a daughter Trystan Lynette Hawkins. Bishop Hawkins also had a granddaughter, Jahve Neru Deana Hawkins, and a grandson, Jamie Daniel Hawkins. Bishop Hawkins started his career in one of his brother’s chorales, the Northern California State Youth Choir of the Church of God in Christ. The choir recorded an album in 1968 as a local fundraiser. When a song from that album, “Oh Happy Day”, became a crossover hit, Buddah Records purchased the master and released it as “the Edwin Hawkins Singers”. This led to him accompanying his brother Edwin to establish the Edwin Hawkins Singers.
Walter Hawkins left the Edwin Hawkins Singers in the early 1970s to establish the Love Center Church in Oakland, California. He and his Love Center Choir had considerable success with their Love Alive series of recordings, which sold well over a million copies from the 1970s through the 1990s. Love Alive IV, released in 1990, was No. 1 on the Billboard Gospel Album charts, where it stayed for 33 weeks. In all, Walter Hawkins produced and/or collaborated on 116 hit songs which were listed on the Billboard Gospel Music charts. Walter Hawkins and his groups were frequent musical collaborators, and recorded with Van Morrison, Diahann Carroll, Sylvester, and Jeffrey Osborne, among many others. One of those who regularly attended the Love Center church was Sylvester, who had been introduced to it in the early 1980s by Jeanie Tracy.
The Winans Family
The Winans Family The Winans family is a U.S. family of gospel music artists from Detroit, Michigan.
Mom and Pop Winans
Delores and David Winans recorded together as “Mom and Pop Winans” and separately at various times as “Mom”, “Pop”, “David” or “Delores”. They received a Grammy nomination for their CD “Mom & Pop Winans” in 1989. Delores is currently signed to daughter CeCe’s label PureSprings Gospel. Delores and David met while in the Lucille Lemon Choir conducted by James Cleveland. They organized yearly Christmas concerts at Mercy Hall in which their ten children participated.
The Winans Brothers Ronald, Carvin, Marvin, and Michael Winans (the second, third, fourth and fifth siblings) are known professionally as The Winans. They were discovered by Andrae Crouch, who signed them to Light Records. Their first record, Introducing The Winans was produced in 1981. Their style was noted for its crossover efforts and received airplay on R&B radio. The group’s last recording was in 1995, but they have subsequently been involved in various Winans family projects where they are credited as “The Winans” (e.g. November 2000’s Christmas: Our Gifts To You).
David Winans II
David Winans II is an instrumentalist; first as bassist for “The Winanaires”, the earliest version of the Winans as a gospel quartet, before they became “The Testimonial Singers”. While they were the “Testimonial Singers”, David switched to guitars. After the change to “The Winans”, David continued to play guitar under the production of Bill Maxwell, and then Quincy Jones’ label Qwest records for the Grammy award-winning “Let My People Go” album. David also has solo Christian rock projects, Xairia, DWP, and more recently, David Winans’ pi. With the group pi in existence David has won 10 Detroit Music Awards for Outstanding Songwriter, Outstanding Instrumentalist and Outstanding Performance. He also won Outstanding Instrumentalist with his premiere recording with Righteous Through God. And most recently 3 Detroit Music Awards for the song, ‘Will You Bring Me There Again’ which he collaborated with Joya Koch, on lyrics. He was married to Deborah Ann Coduto Winans (she died due to illness in 2007) with whom he had a daughter, Seven Simone.
Ron Winans Family & Friends In addition to his involvement with The Winans, Ron released a solo album in the late 1980s on the EMI Gospel label, and recorded a series of five CDs, Ron Winans Family & Friends). He also co-founded, with Gladys Knight, the Gladys and Ron’s Chicken & Waffles restaurant chain. Ronald Winans died in 2005.
Carvin was a member of the Winans with his brothers. During his first five years with the Winans, Carvin not only wrote for the project but had begun producing some of their albums. In 1987, as part of the Winans, he was a backing vocalist on Michael Jackson’s Bad. Carvin now resides in Canada where he won Family Feud Canada.
Marvin Winans Marvin Winans has focused on work as the pastor of Perfecting Church in Detroit, where he continues to record albums with the church’s choir, under the name Marvin Winans and the Perfected Praise Choir. Marvin, along with Delores (“Mom”) and nephew Alvin Love III (sister CeCe’s son), signed to CeCe’s record label PureSprings Gospel. PureSprings Gospel released Marvin’s album Alone But Not Alone in September 2007. He has also founded the Marvin L. Winans Academy of Performing Arts, which opened in 1997.
Michael and Regina Winans
Michael Winans has performed and released several recordings with wife Regina, including the independent album Be Yourself. The album featured background vocals provided by their children Mike (Michael Jr) and LaShay. Their third CD was released in January 2008.
Born in Detroit, Michigan, Daniel Winans is the sixth sibling. Daniel has gone on to win his own Grammy Award for Best Soul Gospel Performance by a Duo or Group, Choir or Chorus and is a three-time Grammy nominee.]
· 1987: Daniel & Second Half
· 1989: Brotherly Love (won Grammy for the title cut)
· 1991: My Point of View
· 1994: Not in My House
· 2011: First Love; guest appearance by Andrae’ Crouch on the remake of Crouch’s “Jesus Is The Answer”
· 2014: Family (Danz Music Productions/BMI/BMG teams up with MCRi Music Distribution)
BeBe & CeCe Winans Youngest brother and seventh sibling Benjamin (BeBe Winans) recorded with younger sister and eighth sibling Priscilla (CeCe Winans) as BeBe & CeCe Winans. Premiering as background vocalists for Andrae Crouch in the 70s, BeBe & CeCe went on to become singers for the PTL Club at Heritage USA in Charlotte, NC. Leaders at The PTL gave BeBe & CeCe a song to sing together, called Up Where We Belong from the 1982 movie An Officer and a Gentleman. Adding a gospel twist, the name and lyrics were changed to “Lord Lift Us Up (Where We Belong)”. After singing that song on the popular Christian television show, BeBe & CeCe were requested to sing on television shows, at conferences and in award shows. The two became a duo releasing their first album in 1984. BeBe & CeCe are the most popular and widely-known of the Winans Family, the first family of Gospel music. They have collaborated with greats such as their best friend, Whitney Houston. In 1991 they released their album Different Lifestyles through Sparrow which included the hits Addictive Love and It’s Okay. Both Bebe and Cece subsequently recorded as solo acts, and have established solo careers. CeCe is the best-selling gospel artist of all time with 12 Grammys and a host of other awards. She has also founded the PureSprings Gospel label, which has signed a number of artists, including family members: Delores (“Mom”) Winans, Marvin Winans, and CeCe’s son, Alvin Love III.
Angie and Debbie Winans
Sisters Angie and Debbie Winans are the ninth and tenth of the siblings and are the youngest members of the family. In 1990 they co-wrote and performed a smooth jazz song called “Be With You” for GospelJazz pioneer, Ben Tankard on his “Keynote Speaker” album. The song went #1 on secular radio. Their first album, “Angie and Debbie”, was released in 1993 on Capitol Records. It included “Light of Love”, which featured pop diva Whitney Houston on background vocals. Stephanie Mills was also featured on background vocals on the song “Father, Father”. Their second album, Bold (1997), contained the song “Not Natural”, a song denouncing homosexuality. This led to protests by GLAAD. Angie Winans released a solo project in 2001, Melodies of My Heart. Debbie Winans later released a children’s album.
Winans Phase 2 Winans Phase 2 was formed in 1998 and recorded on Myrrh Records. It consists of Marvin Winans Jr., Carvin Winans Jr., Michael Winans Jr., and Juan Winans, (son of Carvin Sr.). Marvin Jr. started a production company called M2 Entertainment and produced songs for his mother Vickie Winans’ album Woman To Woman. He also released a solo album, Image of a Man. They released one album in 1999 called We Got Next. Michael Winans Jr. signed with Sean “Diddy” Combs, writing and producing for some of the biggest artists (Chris Brown, New Edition, Case, Michelle Williams, Mario Winans, Danity Kane and Diddy himself). He was scheduled to release his album titled “My Own Genre” March 1, 2011.
3 Winans Brothers
3 Winans Brothers is a Winans brothers supergroup formed in 2013 with Carvin Winans, Marvin Winans, and BeBe Winans. September 2013, the lead single from the upcoming album “If God Be For Us” was released worldwide. The second single “Move In Me” was released July 2, 2014. Leading up to the debut album release of Foreign Land September 30, 2014, on Entertainment One Music/BMG/Regimen Records. On October 14, 2014 the album debuted #2 on Billboard Top 10 Gospel Charts.
Vickie Winans Vickie Winans is the former wife of Marvin and a solo artist. She was also raised in a musical family in Detroit. Her debut solo album in 1987 was titled Be Encouraged. Mario Winans Mario Winans is a solo R&B artist. He debuted in 1997 and had a Billboard number one album in 2004. He is the son of Vickie Winans and Ronald Brown, and took the Winans name after Vickie married Marvin Winans in the late 1970s.
Marvin Winans Jr Marvin Winans Jr, like his brother, is a solo gospel artist. He is the son of Vickie Winans and Marvin Winans. Juan Winans Juan Winans is a Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter. He has written for Warryn Campbell, George Huff, Joe, Lalah Hathaway, Tyler Perry, and Boyz II Men On December 24, 1990, the family appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Family members on the show included Ronald, Carvin, Marvin, and Michael (as “The Winans”), BeBe & CeCe (as a duo), Vickie, Mom and Pop, Daniel, David, Angie, and Debbie. On June 27 1992 the family appeared on The Arsenio Hall Show. Deborah Joy Winans appears on OWN networks Greenleaf as Charity Greenleaf. On March 2, 2021, Marvin’s son Marvin Winans, Jr. appeared as a contestant on Wheel of Fortune.