June is Black Music Month, a celebration of African-American musicians, creators, innovators and influencers. For 2018, the Urban One family is highlighting 25 of the most influential musicians of all-time that have contributed to black spaces far and wide, ranging from inspirational, to hip-hop and R&B.
Artist: James Cleveland
Quick Highlights: 4x Grammy Award Winner, Nicknamed the “King of Gospel”, Co-founder of the Gospel Workshop of America
The “King Of Gospel” laid the foundation for the modern gospel sound of day, mixing traditional black gospel, modern soul, pop and jazz in arrangements for mass choirs and made history in his own way. Before Donnie, before Fred, before Kirk – there was James Cleveland.
As a composer and arranger, Cleveland understudied for Albertina Walker, the woman known as the Queen of Gospel. He broke out solo wise in 1962, not long after recording a version of Ray Charles’ “Hallelujah I Love Her So,” working with the esteemed “Fifth Beatle,” Billy Preston and establishing the James Cleveland Singers, which included Odessa McCastle, Roger Roberts and Gene Viale.
A winner of four Grammy Awards and being on call for legendary musicians such as Aretha Franklin and Elton John, Cleveland established the Gospel Workshop of America, a guild for gospel musicians that include luminaries such as John P. Kee, Kirk Franklin and Yolanda Adams.
James Cleveland Classics
“Peace Be Still”
“Where Is Your Faith In God”