Eddie Williams, pianist for the Caravans, passes on

Eddie Williams of the Caravans

By Libra Boyd
Gospel Music Fever

GMF is sad to learn of the passing of Eddie Williams, songwriter and pianist with the Caravans from 1957 to 1962 (with a hiatus in 1960).  Bob Marovich of the Journal of Gospel Music reported the news yesterday (Nov. 30), and information will be added there as it becomes available.

Eddie Williams was the writer of one of the Caravans’ best known songs, “Lord Keep Me Day by Day.” 

Upon hearing of his passing, Rev. James Herndon, who became the famed group’s pianist and a primary songwriter after Williams’ departure, spoke with GMF about the caliber of his contributions to the Caravans:

Eddie was one of the most profound writers of gospel music as well as an accomplished musician. He wrote the timeless classic “Lord Keep Me Day By Day,” which as you know is still being sung today. It has never grown old to me. He also wrote “Hallelujah ‘Tis Done,” “I’m Glad I Counted Up the Cost,” and many more. He will live forever through the great music he gave the world.

Our prayers and thoughts are with the Williams family in their hour of bereavement.

PBS to air “Jubilee Showcase” anniversary special – Oct. 10

Sid Ordower

By Bill Carpenter

For the first time in almost three decades, fans of Jubilee Showcase,
a groundbreaking gospel music television program that aired from 1963 to
1984 on WLS Channel 7 in Chicago, will be able to see highlights of
the venerable show as it celebrates its 50th anniversary during a Public
Broadcasting System (PBS) Pledge special.  Veteran entertainer Clifton
Davis will host
the pledge break program on WTTW, the Chicago PBS affiliate, on October 10, 2013 at 9 PM CST. The special will also air nationally on PBS stations throughout the United States beginning in December 2013.

The hour-long broadcast
will present historic footage of The Staple Singers, The Soul Stirrers,
and The Caravans among others, from the television show that opened each Sunday morning
with this announcement: “Hello, I’m Sid Ordower and welcome to Jubilee Showcase, the program presenting songs truly American:
gospel, spiritual and jubilee songs–the great inspirational music of
the past and present.”  Dorothy Norwood, who
was once a member of The Caravans and appeared on the program during its 20 year run, will make a cameo during the pledge break to reflect
on the show and its cultural significance at the time.

Sid Ordower launched Jubilee Showcase in 1963
from an auto dealership on 47th Street. As a white man active in
the civil rights movement, Ordower became acquainted with gospel music
because so many political activities took place in churches where he
came in contact with gospel performers. He became a fan of the genre and
created the television show as a mainstream showcase for the artists.

its height, Jubilee Showcase boasted over 250,000 weekly viewers and
presented some of the biggest names in gospel. Many Chicagoans fondly remember watching
Jubilee Showcase on Sunday mornings as “church before church.” Log on at www.jubileeshowcase.com for news and updates.

Inez Andrews Homegoing Recap

Yolanda Adams, Smokie Norful, and the Caravans were among those who gathered to remember Inez Andrews Friday at Apostolic Church of God in Chicago.  Andrews, a towering force and soaring voice in the famous Caravans, passed December 19, at age 83.

Dave Hoekstra of the Chicago Sun-Times provided a well-written recap (click here), and award-winning photographer David Spearman captured photos of the service (view the gallery here).  He also shared footage (click here), during which Pastor Shirley Caesar comforts the family with stirring and uplifting remarks following the Caravans’ musical numbers (“May the Work I’ve Done Speak for Me,” “Jesus Is the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me,” and “Lord, Keep Me Day by Day”).

Inez Andrews of the Caravans: From Labor to Reward

GMF has learned from gospel singer Ron Barrett that “The High Priestess of Gospel” Inez Andrews passed today. Her health had been in decline for several months.  She was 83 years old.

Inez Andrews was a long-time member of the famous Caravans and continued to captivate audiences as recently as her appreciation musical this past September with her signature performance of “Mary Don’t You Weep.” (How she could tease us with her playful hesitance: “I don’t know, but I think I can call her”–Mary, that is–“a lil’ bit louder,” before letting out that piercing shriek, “MAAAARY!”)
Some of the singer/songwriter’s other popular songs with the Caravans were “I’m Not Tired Yet” and “I’m Willing to Wait.” As a solo artist, one of her biggest hits was “Lord, Don’t Move the Mountain.”  
In the 1990’s, Andrews earned a Stellar Award nomination for her album Raise Up A Nation. In 2002, she was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. And, in what will now be a bittersweet tribute, she will be honored with the Ambassador Dr. Bobby Jones Legends Award at the 2013 Stellar Awards in January; she was selected for the award earlier this year. 
GMF’s heartfelt condolences and prayers are with Lady Andrews’ family, friends, and fans.

Services will be held at Apostolic Church of God, 6320 S. Dorchester Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637.

December 27, 2012
7 PM 
Homegoing Celebration
December 28, 2012

11 AM

Visitation one hour prior

“I Call Him Mine” – Daphney Hilton

“I Call Him Mine”
Daphney Hilton
From the CD, Gracechyld (2012) 
HilChyld Music

Available at CD Baby

From the famous Caravans’ catalog, contemporary gospel singer Daphney Hilton revisits the James Herndon-penned pearl “I Call Him Mine.”

Dedicating the tune to her mother, who sang it to her as a child, the Atlanta-based singer and minister arouses the traditional number with her sultry contralto atop rich, multi-layered background vocals.

Hilton knows just how to finesse “I Call Him Mine,” presenting it as a fine cover of the sweet love song the Caravans introduced nearly 50 years ago.


Shirley Caesar: Queen of Gospel talks new title, new music

Shirley CaesarBy Libra Boyd
Gospel Music Fever

It was 1977, just months after Shirley Caesar signed a reportedly lucrative contract with Roadshow Records, that Ebony magazine called her “the queen of gospel music.”  By then she had been in the business more than two and a half decades–sweeping cities like a whirlwind with the famous Caravans, preaching to and praying with saints and sinners as a fiery evangelist, and earning RIAA certified gold records and the coveted Grammy Award as a cutting-edge solo artist.

Thirty-five years and ten more Grammys later, it became official in April:  Pastor Shirley Caesar was crowned Queen of Gospel Music (see related feature), and her accomplishments continue to surpass those of her female contemporaries.  Given her consistent presentation of the gospel and her onstage and offstage persona, one may correctly assume that Pastor Caesar considers the distinction to be a vehicle for even broader ministry.

Sitting in her spacious office at Raleigh’s Mount Calvary Word of Faith Church where she pastors, the lovely living legend, decked in denim, explained what the symbolic title means to her.

Bishop Harold Williams and Pastor Shirley Caesar“Mahalia Jackson was our first queen of gospel, and then it moved from there to Albertina Walker,” points out Pastor Caesar. “Of course, two years ago, Albertina Walker passed away, and the mantle has been handed down to me; however, I don’t want to be a queen in mere words. I want my life, my knowledge of where I’ve been in gospel music, to be able to show other young singers the way into it.”

“They’re out here on the outskirts, and it looks real green over there [in the industry],” she reasons.  “And so they don’t know they’re gonna really have to go through something.  I want to share with them some principles–some things that will keep them from making the same mistakes that I made.”

With amalgam of experience, talent, accolades that are far too numerous to name, a business degree, and the Holy Spirit’s anointing, if there’s anyone who’s capable of such an undertaking, it’s Pastor Caesar.  And one way that she is continuing to point the way is through her music.  The veteran gospel singer has more than a score and a half of recordings in her catalog, and she is about to add yet another to be released in August, tentatively.  One tune she cannot resist recording again is the perennial favorite “No Charge.”  (“After hearing about Dr. Creflo Dollar’s daughter, I think she needs to hear this song again,” says Pastor Caesar.)  She is also including a remake of her self-penned “Holy Boldness,” which was a smoker with the Caravans 47 years ago, and a new track she wrote that she’s especially excited about, “It’s Nice to Be Nice.”  The multi-talented Kurt Carr has also written several tracks and serves as the project’s producer.

The petite powerhouse knows her audience extremely well and says they can expect songs in the traditional vein “with a contemporary flavor.” She is more specific in the video on her Facebook page however, revealing that the album will have “country gospel, traditional gospel, as well as contemporary gospel, [and] praise and worship songs.” And while there may be a surprise or two, what listeners will not hear is anything that compromises her integrity as a representative of Christ.

“I’ve been pitched a song…it’s called ‘Hey Mr. Lover.’  It’s about a couple who has seemingly fallen out of love, and the wife is saying, ‘Hey Mr. Lover, will you love me again?  Will you be my best friend?’  But I’m not gonna record it [for this album] because I know many times, those that you think would be amenable and friendly toward you in doing that–” Pastor Caesar stops just short of completing her thought before adding, “I pray that I’m still a representative of Pentecostal persuasion, and I’m just afraid to take that chance, so I will not have songs like that on there.”

Gospel’s queen acknowledges that she was even initially hesitant about her hip-hop collaboration with then-Tonéx on the radio hit “I Know the Truth.”

“I was leery about rapping,” she admits, “but because [the song] had nothing negative in it, I tried it.”

“I’m hoping and praying that the Lord will give me a million seller or a 500,000 seller,” appends Pastor Caesar.  “I’d like to have all of that, but not at the expense of losing my following.”

Without a doubt, if there’s a formula to Pastor Caesar’s longevity, it is her commitment to ministry and consistency that her fans can count on–both of which are admirable attributes of a royal lady.

Nonetheless, she earnestly maintains, “‘Queen’ is nothing but a title.  I want to be a blessing.”


If you’re in the Raleigh area, Pastor Caesar invites you to worship services at Mt. Calvary Word of Faith Church, located at 3100 Sanderford Road.  The church website is mtcalvarywordoffaith.orgHer preaching ministry is also televised on Raleigh’s CW22 affiliate WLFL every Thursday morning at 5 AM EST.

Additionally, you are invited to the 40th Annual Conference of Shirley Caesar Outreach Ministries to be held August 6-10, 2012, at the church.  All seats are free; more information is posted on the church site.
Click to Enlarge

Related Stories
“A Celebration Fit for A Queen!”
“Shirley Caesar on Today’s ‘Singingest’ Women, Whitney, and the Big Screen” 
“Rev. James Herndon of the Caravans–No Coward Soldier!”

A Celebration Fit for a Queen!

Bishop Harold I. Williams presents his wife, Pastor Shirley Caesar, 
as the newly crowned “Queen of Gospel.”

By Libra Boyd
Gospel Music Fever

“Mahalia Jackson is gone, but we have Shirley Caesar!” shouted longtime Caesar Singer, Bernard Sterling to a capacity crowd at Mount Calvary Word of Faith Church.  “We’re gonna love her while she’s here!”

A jubilant ovation erupts.  It was one of many during the five hour salute.

Every pew was packed and folding chairs were filled inside the 1500 seat sanctuary Sunday night as its pastor, Shirley Caesar, was crowned “Queen of Gospel.” 

The symbolic crown–previously worn by greats Mahalia Jackson and Albertina Walker–was passed to Walker’s protégé Caesar, whose accolades include 11 Grammy, 13 Stellar, and 18 Dove Awards; McDonald’s Golden Circle and SESAC Lifetime Achievement Awards; and induction into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.

Throughout the celebratory musical, no less than 14 performers paid tribute with several of Her Majesty’s hits like “Jesus, I Love Calling Your Name,” “Heaven,” and the perennial favorite, “No Charge.”  Pastor Caesar smiled, clapped, swayed, and occasionally stood in awe.

Even the youngest generation of gospel singers was well represented in the persons of twelve year-old Michael Boone, nine year-old Rev. Leniyus Sullivan, and eight year-old Symone “Baby Shirley” Spencer.

Also in the house as a surprise guest was Douglas Miller, whose classic “My Soul Has Been Anchored” ripened the atmosphere for a praise break.

In the styling of the British monarchy, Sunday’s coronation followed similar protocols such as Pastor Caesar being anointed with oil (left) by Bishop Harold I. Williams, Patriarch of the Mount Calvary Holy Church of America, Inc.  Dressed in an exquisite floor-length gown with dainty gold accents, the ageless beauty then rose to receive the charge from Evangelist Carolyn Sanders.  Following the charge and presentation of the Holy Bible, master of ceremony Jerry Smith of Radio One crowned Pastor Caesar, as the title “Queen of Gospel” was bestowed.  To a thunderous standing ovation, she was given a bouquet of flowers and presented with more gifts, including a trophy.

As the long evening drew to a close, Queen Shirley took to the lectern, graced the congregation with “Strong Man”–sprinkling a sermonette over its chorus–and expressed heartfelt gratitude along with a sobering exhortation.

“I charge you tonight,” she urged, “as many as who stand on my shoulders…walk holy…live holy….Live what you sing.  Live what you preach and teach.”

From left to right: twelve year-old Michael Boone sings “No Charge,” eight year-old Symone Spencer performs “Jesus, I Love Calling Your Name,” and nine year-old Rev. Leniyus Sullivan delivers the Caravans’ “Lord Keep Me Day By Day.”
Grammy-winning producer Sanchez Harley recalls how Pastor Caesar orchestrated an opportunity for him to produce on her 1983 gospel album Sailin’, which garnered a Grammy.  After citing Caesar as his favorite singer, he adds, “That [crown] is not an imaginary token crown. She is the Queen–the real deal.”

Jerry Smith, of Radio One’s The Light 103.9FM, prepares to crown Pastor Caesar as Bishop Williams and Bernard Sterling look on.

The newly crowned “Queen of Gospel” receives more gifts including a framed commemorative announcement of the ceremony and a trophy presented by Dr. Mildred Summerville (second from left), on behalf of The Diamond Club.
Related Stories 

“Just That Good (The Albertina Walker Tribute)” – Dorothy Norwood

“Just That Good (The Albertina Walker Tribute)”
Dorothy Norwood
From the upcoming CD, God’s Been Just That Good (Available March 20, 2012)

Dorothy Norwood is warming up traditional radio with her current single “Just That Good (The Albertina Walker Tribute).”

Norwood, this year’s recipient of the Ambassador Dr. Bobby Jones Legend Award at the Stellars, joins Monica Lisa Stevenson and Bishop J.D. Means for a traditional tribute to her friend and mentor, Albertina Walker.  Rather than somberly reminiscing, the Caravans alumna opts to esteem her comrade before forging ahead into the uplifting song of gratitude and praise.

Shirley Caesar to be crowned “Queen of Gospel” – CALLING ALL FANS

Originally posted March 10, 2012 at 8:18PM
Last Updated April 26, 2012 at 3:08PM
Albertina Walker and Shirley Caesar


GMF has learned from Mildred Summerville that the “First Lady of Gospel” Pastor Shirley Caesar will be feted on April 29, 2012, during which she will be crowned the “Queen of Gospel.”  The metaphorical crown was previously worn by the late Albertina Walker, who passed October 2010.  Pastor Caesar, an alumna of the famous Caravans, considers Walker as a mentor, friend, and legend on whose shoulders she stands.

A multiple Grammy, Stellar and Dove award winner, Pastor Caesar is one of the most recognized and beloved women in gospel music, both here and abroad.  Her recording career stretches across six decades.

The crowning ceremony will take place at Mount Calvary Word of Faith Church (3100 Sanderford Road, Raleigh, NC), at 4 PM, where Caesar pastors.  The service will feature a host of gospel singers and performers including six year-old Symone Spencer, performing as Baby Shirley Caesar, Michael Boone, Leniyus Sullivan, Fayetteville State University Choir United Voices of Praise, Mount Calvary Word of Faith Choir, and the mini-stage play “Hold My Mule” by Lucy Hawkins of the 700 Club. 

Click flyer to enlarge

Also performing are: The Caesar Singers, Virginia Beach, Juan Santiago and JSUP, The Maryland Mass Chior, Ruth La’Ontra Jones, Bishop Floyd Knowlin & Lighthouse Choir, Steve Johnson & Singers, New Bethel Baptist Choir, TDK Mime, and Anointed Voices of Praise.

Jerry Smith of The Light 103.9FM and Peggy Tatum of TCP Magazine will host.

The service is open to the public and all seats are free.

Update (3/17/12):  A fan club donation along with congratulatory cards will be presented to Pastor Caesar during the ceremony.  This is your chance to give her flowers while she can enjoy them, by showing her just how much her music has meant to you.

Cards as well as donations of any amount are welcomed.  All checks should be made payable to Pastor Shirley Caesar and mailed to:

Dr. Mildred Summerville
Fan Club Coordinator
P.O. Box 21
Wilson, NC  27894

Related Story
Shirley Caesar on Today’s ‘Singingest’ Women, Whitney, and the Big Screen  

BET’s Black Girls Rock honors Shirley Caesar

There’s just no stopping Pastor Shirley Caesar.  On the heels of a series of events celebrating her birthday (which was October 13), the “First Lady of Gospel” is among this year’s honorees on BET’s Black Girls Rock.  The show’s first airing is Sunday, November 6.