Friday, January 06, 2006

Gospel Mourns

Two painful announcements were made on Friday, January 6. While the media continued his restless coverage of the horrible tragedy in Sago surrounding the deadly mine explosion killing 11 miners, the music world was served a sad report; announcing the passing of R&B legend Lou Rawls. The silken-voiced crooner whom got his start singing gospel at the age of seven and singing alongside Sam Cooke, with the Pilgrim Travelers, while growing up in the inner parts of Chicago. He also sung with the Highway Q.C.s and several other quartets and groups in his early childhood.

Known for his R&B standards during the 60s which include "Stormy Monday", "Natural Man", "Tobacco Road", and "Love Is A Hurtin' Thing", he hit it real big in 1976 when renowned Philly producers Gamble & Huff released "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine" on their PIR label; which revived his career and prepared him for his next achievement. He would later move on being the national spokesman for the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) for over a decade. He hosted, "Lou Rawls Parade of Stars", the highly-watched fundraiser in which premiered in 1980, for years and contributed his talents and his wonderful networking skills to attract big names to the show's roster. Many of the UNCF schools received occasional visits from Rawls and explains why alot of the schools truly loved him for his kind heart and his lovable spirit. The singer revisited his gospel roots by recording two gospel projects with Malaco Records; "I'm Blessed" (2001) and "Oh, Happy Day" (2002). Lou Rawls, 72, passed away after a bout with lung and brain cancer. We will forever miss Brother Lou and will always remember his smile, his style and for always encouraging us with that little phrase of joy: "yeaahhh, buddy".

News also went out involving what many label the birthplace of U.S. gospel music. Of course, it is evident that Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago, IL, the same city that Lou Rawls spent a good deal of his musical training in, housed alot of history. It was the same church that housed the Father of Gospel music, the late Thomas A. Dorsey; whom was not only the active music director but known across the world for founding gospel music. When churches during this time rejected Dorsey's style of musicianship, along with his very own "bluesy" compositions later called "gospel", it was Pilgrim Baptist Church that welcomed him in with loving arms. The church was built in 1890 by the famous architectural firm of Adler & Sullivan and housed music legends within the church choir including Sallie Martin, Mahalia Jackson and Rev. James Cleveland. It was also established that this landmark also was the first public site that heard the lyrics and music of the historic "Precious Lord, Take My Hand"; in which was penned by Dorsey. The cause of the fire still has not be made public yet, but it's sad to even know that this wonderful landmark is no longer with us.

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