By Libra Boyd, Founder & Editor
Gospel Music Fever
Although open to the public, modest was the number who weathered Saturday evening’s messy, rainy conditions to celebrate Evangelist Maggie Ingram, matriarch and lead singer of Maggie Ingram and the Ingramettes, at Danville, VA’s Greater United Apostolic Church. At 84 years of age, Maggie, hailed Virginia’s “Queen of Gospel,” is likely the oldest active female singer on the gospel quartet circuit.
During the celebration, the evangelist was praised for her commitment to spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ for over a half century as well as for her ongoing efforts to strengthen struggling families in her community. Notable is the gravity of sacrifices for her own five children–which eldest daughter Evangelist Almeta Ingram-Miller frequently recounts–along with her compassion and advocacy for others, especially the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated. A third grade education, vigorous work ethic (hewn in part from Maggie’s upbringing on Mulholland’s Plantation in Coffee County, GA), and God-given musical talents of singing, songwriting, and playing the piano with no formal training have worked together in service to God and His people.
“This is a woman that I’ve seen sacrifice,” Almeta shared candidly Saturday night. “There are five of us [children]. When God gave her a [new] house, we thought it was just for us, [but] women would be released from prison and have little babies and nowhere to go. Mama would make us double up in a room [and then tell the women], ‘Come on Baby, bring your babies; you can stay here til you get on your feet. You can stay here til you find a job.'” Maggie didn’t just open her home as a “halfway house,” but she worked to initiate legislation permitting inmates at minimum security prisons to interact with their children through “family day” programs.
We’ve sung to ten thousand [at the Kennedy Center], and we’ve sung to ten. As a matter of fact, we went down to Raleigh…and the lady forgot she had booked the program…and so we were getting ready to pack up and go home. Mama said, ‘Oh no! Set up every keyboard, set up every drum, set up the guitars and the bass. Set up the microphones–because God has been good. And for this one lady, we’re gonna sing to the glory of God.’
Maggie Ingram and the Ingramettes’ current CD, Live in Richmond, is available at www.virginiafolklife.org and according to the group’s bio, is set to be archived at the Smithsonian Institution.
Check out GMF’s Facebook page for photo highlights of this weekend’s service.
Top photo: ‘To the glory of God’ – Maggie Ingram and the Ingramettes, (from left): Valerie Stewart, Almeta Ingram-Miller, Maggie Ingram, and Cheryl Beaver.
Libra Nicole Boyd, PhD is a musician, award-winning author, gospel music aficionado, and the founder and editor of Gospel Music Fever™. Her commitment to journalistic integrity includes bringing you reliable gospel music content that uplifts and advances the art form. Libra is presently working on several scholarly projects about gospel music in the media as well as gospel music in social movements.