Queen of Gospel Albertina Walker dies

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    Albertina Walker, known to many as the "Queen of Gospel," had died in Chicago at age 81 after a long battle with respiratory problems.

    Albertina Walker, known to many as the "Queen of Gospel," had died in Chicago at age 81 after a long battle with respiratory problems.

    Albertina began singing in the youth choir at the West Point Baptist Church in Chicago at an early age, and joined several Gospel groups thereafter, including The Pete Williams Singers and the Robert Anderson Singers. Albertina was greatly influenced by Mahalia Jackson, her friend and confidante. Mahalia Jackson took her on the road when she was just a teenager. "Mahalia used to kid me. She'd say, 'Girl, you need to go sing by yourself.' " recalled Walker in a recent Washington Post Interview. Albertina Walker did just that. In 1951, she formed the group called The Caravans. She was given the title "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, Cassietta George, and Delores Washington. Her discovery of these artists resulted in the nickname "Star Maker". Walker retired The Caravans in the late 1960s, performing as a solo artist.

    In the mid 1970s, Walker signed with Savoy Records then Benson Records, Word Records, A&M Records, and other record companies, recording a series of solo projects, many of them with big church choirs including The Evangelical Choir, The Cathedral of Love Choir, The Metro Mass choir, and her own church choir - The West Point Choir. Albertina recorded her first solo project Put A Little Love In Your Heart in 1975. She also recorded several projects together with Reverend James Cleveland. 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".[citation needed] Albertina still enjoys an active recording career, often lending her talents to the projects of other artists in addition to her own. These albums have yielded multiple Gold records and Grammy nominations.

    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[3] and entered the Billboard charts in the top ten and remained in the top forty for sixteen weeks.

    Albertina earned many awards and honors over her six decades of music ministry. Among them, a 1995 Grammy Award for the Best Traditional Gospel Album (Songs of The Church); 10 Grammy Award nominations; 5 Gold Records; 3 Stellar Awards; 3 Dove Awards; several Gospel Music Workshop of America Excellence Awards; an induction into the 2001 Gospel Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee. In 2005, the Grammys honored her contributions to the Gospel music industry. She is also the recipient of a National Heritage Fellowship. President George Bush honored Albertina Walker for her contribution to Gospel music May 31, 2002.

    (Thanks to SoulTracker Sgt. Gary for passing on the information on Albertina's death to us)

    This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Albertina Walker.