The Church and B.B. King

By Libra Boyd
Gospel Music Fever

Over his nearly 70-year professional career, blues legend B.B. King (1925-2015) returned to his gospel roots once, in 1959, to record a vinyl album entitled B.B. King Sings Spirituals. The Crown Records release captures 30-something year-old King wailing, at times both vocally and on his guitar, tunes that we now know have withstood the test of time in traditional gospel.  Among them is “Take My Hand, Precious Lord,” composed by a former blues pianist who is now recognized as the Father of Gospel Music, Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey. 

King passed May 14, at the age of 89.

In his essay for The Washington Post, “How the church gave B.B. King the blues,” Daniel Silliman explores King’s church upbringing. Read it to gain insight into the King of the Blues’ relationship to the church and gospel music in his own words. 

B.B. King’s official website reports that there will a public viewing Friday, May 22, from 3 PM to 7 PM at the Palm South Jones Mortuary, 1600 South Jones Blvd, Las Vegas.  For complete information about the memorials and funeral, visit

Andraé Crouch (1942-2015) was part of my church family [Arrangements Added]

By Libra Boyd
Gospel Music Fever

Andraé Crouch passed today (January 8) in Los Angeles. He was 72.  (Read the related story at USA Today.) My prayers are with his twin sister Sandra and the Crouch family as well as the New Christ Memorial Church of God in Christ, friends, and fans.

Though I knew the Grammy-winning singer, songwriter, and pastor had been hospitalized since Saturday, reportedly in critical condition from a heart attack, his passing hits me as though he was part of my church family. In a way, he was. As a minister of music, I felt my repertoire of choir selections was incomplete without a Crouch gem. “Maybe God’s Trying to Tell You Something” (from The Color Purple), “Let the Church Say Amen,” “Soon and Very Soon,” “Jesus is the Answer,” “Through It All,” and the classic he penned at age 14, “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power” have permanent pages in my music catalog, and he, through his powerful, meaningful, and relatable songs, will have an abiding presence in the Sunday worship services I conduct as music director.

Andraé Crouch was very likely part of your church family too. His contributions to American music are too numerous to mention. The artists he has influenced are copious. The masses he has led to Christ are countless. 

Crouch was a pioneer and a legend–and other legends and contemporaries embraced opportunities to work with him. In 2012, “Queen of Gospel” Pastor Shirley Caesar told me that her dream collaboration would be a duet with the man whom some have called “the father of modern gospel music.”

His music is timeless. His legacy is lasting.   

Arrangements have been announced, and both services will stream live.

What is your favorite Andraé Crouch song? Please share in the comment section below. 

Al Green fêted at 37th Annual Kennedy Center Honors, airs Dec. 30

Rev. Al Green is among five recipients of the 2014 Kennedy Center Honors. The gala was held December 7, at the Kennedy Center and will be broadcast on CBS tomorrow, December 30, at 9 PM ET.  The Kennedy Center explains:

The Honors recipients recognized for their lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts—whether in music, dance, theater, opera, motion pictures, or television—are selected by the Executive Committee of the Center’s Board of Trustees. The primary criterion in the selection process is excellence. The Honors are not designated by art form or category of artistic achievement; the selection process, over the years, has produced balance among the various arts and artistic disciplines.

While Al Green demonstrates musical excellence in both the soul and gospel genres, gospel great Marion Williams (whose career included tenures with the Clara Ward Singers and the Stars of Faith) is the only strictly gospel singer to have received the honor since its inception 37 years ago. Don’t you think it’s time for more of our deserving gospel artists to be recognized?  I can certainly think of a handful who merit recognition for their lifetime contributions and excellence, such as Shirley Caesar, Andraé Crouch, Richard Smallwood, and Edwin Hawkins. 

So, here’s a challenge to GMF readers: review the criteria for this honor and submit your recommendation for 2015 here: Submit A Kennedy Center Honors Recommendation

Boyd: "Let's make 2014 the best year yet for advancing gospel music"

Happy New Year! 

It’s another new year, and I wish to take this moment to thank you for your continued support, prayers, and well wishes throughout 2013.  Thank you for your ongoing interest in GMF; you have been reading, commenting, and telling others about the site, and many of you have also submitted great music.  Thank you!
Last year this time, GMF was a Rhythm of Gospel Award nominee for Internet Media Group of the Year.  This year, because of you and the Rhythm of Gospel voting board, GMF is an award-winning blog.  Thank God and thank you!
Let’s make 2014 the best year yet for the advancement of gospel music by moving forward with great expectations for God, self, and the art form. 

Libra Boyd, Founder & Editor
Gospel Music Fever

It's GMF's Second Anniversary!

Today GMF celebrates two years of being your “red hot spot for all things gospel,” and I am deeply thankful for the support of every subscriber, reader, artist, media colleague, and social media follower.

As we enter into year three, continue to keep GMF lifted as we keep on uplifting and advancing gospel music.  As the old hymn line goes, “Every round goes higher and higher.”

With heartfelt gratitude,

Libra Boyd, Founder & Editor
2013 Rhythm of Gospel Nominee – Internet Media Group of the Year

‘Happy New Year’ and ‘Thank You’ from GMF’s Libra Boyd

Happy New Year to each of you! 

I take this time to thank you so much for your support, prayers, and well wishes throughout 2012.  Thank you for your interest in GMF; you have been reading, commenting, and telling others about the blog.  Many of you have also submitted wonderful music: thank you, and keep it coming!
You are the reason GMF is a 2013 Rhythm of Gospel Award nominee for Internet Media Group of the Year.  Thank you to all who are voting; your frequent votes through March 1, 2013 are appreciated. (Vote here and vote often.)
As we enter into this new year, let’s keep moving forward with great expectations for God, self, and the advancement of gospel music.
Libra Boyd, Founder & Editor
Gospel Music Fever

An Open Letter to the NAACP Image Awards – Memorial Segment Omissions

Editor’s Note: International gospel music veterans Delois Barrett Campbell and Jessy Dixon passed away in August and September 2011, respectively; however, both were excluded from the NAACP Image Awards memorial segment.  The following inquiry was initially sent as a private email to the Image Awards on Friday, February 17, 2012, immediately following its airing on NBC.  After waiting nearly one month for a response, I sent a second email Thursday, March 15, 2012.  To date, I still have not received any acknowledgment of my emails.

Dear NAACP Image Awards:

I am extremely disturbed that two giants in gospel music, Delois Barrett Campbell and Rev. Jessy Dixon, were omitted from the 2012 program’s memorial segment.  Certainly, gospel music has been the foundation of the African-American experience and should be revered as such.

President Barack Obama posits that “the potent words of gospel gave strength to a generation that rose above the din of hatred to move our country toward justice and equality for all.”  Delois Barrett Campbell was one such voice.  She is hailed as “The Royal Lady of Gospel” and recognized internationally for her pioneering contributions to the art form.  Media coverage of her passing was massive, and her three-day funeral services brought tributes from President Obama, Aretha Franklin, Jennifer Hudson, Rev. Jesse Jackson and others.  The New York Times published a well-written article chronicling her seven-decade career.

Singer/songwriter/musician Rev. Jessy Dixon’s discography includes collaborations with Paul Simon, Diana Ross, Earth, Wind & Fire, Billy Preston, and James Cleveland–and this is the short list.  The Chicago Sun-Times published a piece detailing his impact on the music industry.  The 54th Grammy Awards mentioned him in its memorial segment; unfortunately, the NAACP Image Awards did not.

I submit this inquiry: If we do not esteem our own, who will?  If we do not honor our own in death as we have celebrated our own in life, who will?  If we fail to recognize those who blazed trails for Jennifer Hudson, Aretha Franklin, Richard Smallwood, Donald Lawrence, and Kirk Franklin, who will?

I am kindly requesting a reply and explanation of these omissions.  Thank you in advance for taking time to address my concern about these exclusions.  I look forward to your response.


Libra N. Boyd, Founder & Editor
Gospel Music Fever™

Members of the gospel community support justice for Trayvon Martin

By Libra Boyd
Gospel Music Fever

Utterly tragic is the February 26th murder of 17 year-old Trayvon Martin.  Utterly outrageous is that Sanford, FL police state they don’t have sufficient evidence to refute the gunman’s claim of self defense, and therefore can’t arrest him.
Are you kidding me?  Martin was unarmed, carrying a bag of Skittles and a bottle of iced tea.  George Zimmerman, the gunman, pursued him, despite being told by a 911 dispatcher not to.  Details of the case are too many to recall here; you can refer to ABC News for the overview.
This matter reeks of the racism that remains alive and pervasive in this society.  Martin is Black; Zimmerman is White and Hispanic.  I posit, however, that even if one removes the notion of race as a factor, the matter is equally egregious: an adult followed and murdered an unarmed child holding some candy and a drink.
Numerous congregations wore hoodies yesterday, symbolic of their stand against senseless violence and injustice.  I wore mine also–along with a badge of Trayvon Martin and me pictured in hoodies, side by side.  Underneath was a scripture from 1 Samuel 17:29: “And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause?”
And like Mahalia Jackson, Sallie Martin, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other gospel singers and clerics who were vocal about the issues of injustice in their day (especially during the 1960’s civil rights movement), people from the gospel community are speaking out in their own way regarding this injustice.
Fortune’s Twitter Avatar
“Where’s the justice?” asked James Fortune on Twitter.  He also changed his avatar in protest.
Brian Courtney Wilson tweeted, “Still expecting justice for #TrayvonMartin.” 
“So Zimmerman says he’s sorry for shooting #Trayvon Martin?” producer Kevin Bond posted on Twitter just this morning.  “Yet you were standing your ground? #FOOLISHNESS and #RACIST!”
Perhaps with reconciliation at the heart of his tweet, Pastor John P. Kee posted, “Wish I could grab 3 of my nephews! We’d roll into Florida and find Zimmerman and pray with him!”  He, too, donned a hoodie in his avatar.  (See more photos of other gospel artists who are showing support for Trayvon Martin at  NuthinButGospel blog.)
Today, Pastor Jamal Bryant and others will lead a National March of Justice at Centennial Park in Sanford, FL.  Accordingly, the prominent pastor tweeted this morning, “Dear Lord 2day get justice 4 TRAYVON, redeem those who’ve been done wrong, protect kids from harm & don’t let us wait long!”
I am glad to see the gospel community join this fight, and I hope the momentum continues.  In his work, Privilege, Power, and Difference, sociologist Allan G. Johnson asserts, “There is no such thing as doing nothing. There is no such thing as being neutral or uninvolved. At every moment, social life involves all of us.”

From GMF on Attribution

To GMF Readers:

Since GMF first reported “Shirley Caesar to be crowned ‘Queen of Gospel,'” it has been brought to our attention that portions of GMF’s piece have been published verbatim on other websites without proper credit.

We welcome you to share the information you read here, but please credit Gospel Music Fever™ and/or post a link to the original GMF post.  Thank you.