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™

"I Love to Praise Him" – Mississippi Mass Choir

“I Love to Praise Him”
Mississippi Mass Choir
From the CD, Then Sings My Soul (2011)

Mississippi Mass Choir and Mosie “Mama” Burks don’t believe in messing up a good thing.  The choir’s popular silver-haired lead vocalist has become known for putting her spin on hit songs of yesteryear written by the likes of Dorothy Love Coates (“Holding On” and “They Got the Word [City Built Foursquare]”), Inez Andrews (“I’m Not Tired Yet”), and others.  Rev. Milton Biggham’s arrangement of the late Rev. Jessy Dixon’s “I Love to Praise His Name” is about as appropriate as any to continue the trend.

This hand-clapper adheres to the pattern of Mama Burks’ other high-speed classics: a big brass section, a rocking choir, and a spirited frontwoman with vigor and vibrato.

Jessy Dixon, legendary gospel singer & songwriter, has died

The Black Gospel Blog just reported that another gospel legend in the person of Rev. Jessy Dixon has passed from labor to reward.

Dixon was an internationally acclaimed singer, songwriter, and musician whose memorable compositions include “I Am Redeemed,” “I Love to Praise His Name,” and “Lord Prepare Me to Be a Sanctuary.”  He wrote more than 200 songs throughout his career.  He was also a sought-after accompanist.  His fans were many including celebrities Stevie Wonder, Natalie Cole, Bette Midler, and Diana Ross.

The Black Gospel Blog will provide additional information as it becomes available.

GMF extends sympathy to Rev. Dixon’s family and friends and to the gospel community.