Sunday, July 27, 2008

Remembering Rev. Lawrence C. Roberts

Rev. Lawrence C. Roberts, known for his important roles as record producer for Savoy Records at its creative peak and for serving as the pastor of the renowned First Baptist Church of Nutley, New Jersey, finished his earthly course on July 14, 2008 in his Stone Mountain, Georgia residence at the age of 77.

While Roberts never inherited the majesty of the artists he worked with, his importance to the world of gospel music is nostalgic in all of its infinite glory. While serving as pastor and developing the First Baptist Church into one of the popular churches in the city of Nutley, Roberts went on to help the Newark-based Savoy Records become one of the fastest growing and most successful record companies in gospel music. He also made history for being one of the first black record producers of a major U.S. recording company. The Savoy label during its glory years housed some of the greatest talent in all of gospel music history including the Angelic Gospel Singers, the Roberta Martin Singers, Dr. Mattie Moss Clark, Albertina Walker & the Caravans and Rev. James Cleveland.

In 1960, Roberts decided to experiment with live recordings on Rev. James Cleveland, one of the label’s hit makers, and made a momentous decision to tape the project at First Baptist. With a young Billy Preston on organ, the album gained major attention and started a series of albums featuring the famed Angelic Choir (of First Baptist Church). The historic Peace Be Still LP, also known as Volume III, broke national ground and became an instant best-seller while also paving the way for gospel music’s bright future using the live recordings format. Roberts, a gifted baritone and choir director, produced a number of groundbreaking hits for Cleveland including “I Stood On The Banks of Jordan,” “Life Can Be Beautiful,” “No Cross, No Crown,” “I Had a Talk with God” and “My God Can Do Anything.” Roberts won two Grammy Awards and continued to pastor First Baptist Church for thirty-six years until his retirement in 1995.

Roberts made a guest appearance on the Gospel Legends CD/DVD super compilation, released on Malaco Records in 2006. The label has also announced that they will be releasing his final contribution to the historic music label entitled “Bridging the Past, Blessing the Present in Song.”

Roberts is survived by his wife, Delores, a renowned singer in her own right who Roberts credited with inspiring him to pursue his gospel career. He also is survived by three children, a son, Derrick Roberts, and two daughters, Vanessa Walker and Renee Whitney.

His funeral services took place on July 19 at Victory Church in Stone Mountain, Georgia and was well attended by hundreds of mourners including gospel giants Dorothy Norwood, Rev. Richard “Mr. Clean” White, GMWA chairman Rev. Albert Jamison and present-day Savoy president Rev. Milton Biggham.

Below I have enclosed a special video tribute from Rev. Lawrence Roberts, taped at the memorial services of the late Rev. James Cleveland in 1991. Years later, the video - with its prolific words and spiritual dynamics - speaks for itself.

Rest in peace, Rev. Roberts. We will see you again.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Judy Is A Native New Yorker...

One thing is for sure...I didn't know it.

And you probably didn't know it either. But that's not the point. The point is renowned worship leader Judith Christie-McAllister will be preparing for her upcoming project and live recording session to take place in the Big Apple. Where she is a native.

The effort will consist of a live DVD/CD recording at the Greater Allen Cathedral AME Church - pastored by Dr. Floyd Flake - on August 8 at 7:00 p.m. The live recording is free and open to the public. And topping things off, McAllister will be ministering to registrants in a special Impartational Workshop on August 9 from 10 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. If you are interested in attending this one-on-one session with the her, you must register in advance for this event. Registration is $20.

The First Lady of Praise and Worship has never let us down before with her album releases. After recording super hits including "Oh Give Thanks," "Like The Dew," "High Praise," "Hallelujah, You're Worthy" and the recent radio smash "Bless Thou The Lord O My Soul," McAllister aims to impress her longtime supporters with the next move in her music career and ministry.

Kudos to Marcellus Coleman @ Minstrel's Point of View for the updated information and flyer.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Greater St. Stephens Destroyed By Fire

After recovering from the brutal and disastrous aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the popular New Orleans church - once pastored by the renowned teleevangelist Bishop Paul S. Morton - experienced yet another tumultuous downfall with the Monday predawn three-alarm fire leaving the 2,000-seat church in ruins.

Greater St. Stephens Full Gospel Baptist Church was still trying to bounce back from the major blow of Hurricane Katrina three years ago; which swallowed up their mega-church 20,000-membership status to 5,000 members. With the Eastern church location still being closed due to the water damage, Senior Pastor Debra Morton, who now pastors the church, continued to walk the church through their next phase of rebuilding and restoration. Bishop Paul S. Morton, the church's former pastor, handed the New Orleans church to his wife so that he could focus more on the satellite church he established in Atlanta.

According to Bishop Paul S. Morton, he has stated that investigators suspected the fire starting in the choir loft behind the church's pulpit. Both pastors believe that the church will bounce back and better than ever.

Temporary Sunday morning services will be held at Congregation Temple Sinai, located next to Loyola University at 9:00 a.m. and 11:15 a.m.

In a press statement released on July 20, Rabbi Edward Cohn said, “In the wake of the devastating fire which destroyed the sanctuary of one of New Orleans’ religious landmarks, an opportunity for interfaith love and cooperation was presented to our historic congregation. Bruce Nolan, religion reporter from the Times Picayune put us in touch with Greater St. Stephen leadership and we offered a setting for their Sunday services for at least a month. Temple Sinai is a house of prayer for all people and all who enter our doors in the spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood are always welcome and that includes the members of Greater St. Stephen Ministries.”

Bishop Paul S. Morton is a renowned gospel artist, a five-time Stellar Award winner and national bishop of the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship. Known for big hits including "Let It Rain, "Bow Down And Worship Him," and "Your Tears," Morton has recorded for a number of gospel labels including GospoCentric, Blackberry and currently records on the Light Records label.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Timothy Wright Hurt In Tragic Car Accident

Reverend Timothy Wright, known for gospel hits including "Who's On The Lord's Side," "Trouble Don't Last Always," "For The Rest Of My Life (I'll Serve Him)," and his recent hit, "Jesus Jesus Jesus," was critically injured in a car crash in central Pennsylvania that killed his wife and a wrong-way driver who hit their vehicle, according to police.

Wright, 61, was injured Friday night around 10:30 p.m. Friday along with his 14-year-old grandson, D.J. Wright, and both were taken to Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, according to a hospital spokesman. A third vehicle, blinded by the smoke from Wright's vehicle, struck Wright's 2002 Lincoln Blackwood in the back after the initial crash, police told the Detroit Free Press.

First Lady Betty Wright, 58, died in the three car wreck on Interstate 80 in Greene Township, state police confirmed. Betty Wright, co-writer of "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus," also was a pastor at Wright's Grace Tabernacle Church of God In Christ.

Rev. Wright was traveling home to New York after attending the Church of God In Christ AIM Convention in Detroit, Michigan.

A memorial service will be held Sunday at 11:45 a.m. and a prayer service at 5:45 p.m. Sunday at Grace Tabernacle COGIC; the church in which Rev. Wright pastors. The prayer service will be led by Bishop Albert Jamison.

Watch the YouTube video below of Rev. Timothy Wright performing "Jesus Jesus Jesus."

White House Goes To The Church House

You wouldn't believe it if I said the picture is here to proof it.

The White House celebrated the genre and historical relevance of gospel music in the East Room on June 17 with live performances from the Kurt Carr Singers, Spensha Baker, Walter & Edwin Hawkins and Narcissus Brown. The invitation-only event was hosted by Dr. Teresa Hairston - founder and publisher of Gospel Today magazine.

This wasn't the first time gospel music stepped itself into the walls of the White House, but this one will be highly remembered for its exclusive tribute to the genre of gospel music for an entire program during Black Music Month - annual held in the month of June.

The 50-minute celebration can still be viewed on the Internet in its entirety by
clicking here.

President Bush's Transcript at Gospel Celebration
Gospel Celebration Video (Windows Media Player required)