Cleave Graham of the Pilgrim Jubilees passes away

Cleave Graham funeral information

GMF was saddened to receive news of the passing of Cleave Graham of the Pilgrim Jubilees. Cleave passed June 11, at age 96. Born January 8, 1928, Cleave was a cherished member of a family of singers who went on to significantly impact the quartet music scene.

The Pilgrim Jubilee Singers started in Mississippi with Cleave’s brothers Theophilus “Hoppy” Graham and Elgie C.B. Graham alongside their cousin Monroe Hatchett and cousins-in-law Alfred Brownlee and Willis Johnson. After a brief disbandment in the late 1940s, the group regrouped in Chicago in the early 1950s, with Cleave, Hoppy, Elgie, and Monroe. Major Roberson was also added to the roster and later on, Cleave’s younger brother Clay.

Throughout their career, the Pilgrim Jubilees, as they came to be called, recorded for several labels, including Nashboro, Peacock, Savoy, and Malaco, and traveled extensively on the quartet circuit. They won the admiration of audiences not only with their charisma but also with Cleave’s rollicking drives like “Wonderful,” “Don’t Let Him Down,” and “Safety of Your Soul,” and Clay’s compelling sermonettes as heard in “Rich Man, Poor Man” and “Barnyard.”

The Pilgrim Jubilees, a biography written by Alan Young and published in 2001, documents the group’s rich history and offers fans and new enthusiasts deeper insight into the Jubes’ musical legacy.

Cleave was the group’s longest active member. Clay passed away in 2018. Major died eight years prior, in 2010. Ben Chandler, another longtime member, transitioned in 2012.

Funeral arrangements have been announced by the family as follows:

Thursday, June 20, 2024
4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Maggie’s Bereavement Services
South Chicago Chapel Funeral Home
2939 East 95th Street
Chicago, IL 60617

Musical Tribute
Thursday, June 20, 2024
7:30 p.m.

Prayer Center Baptist Church
1432 West 79th Street
Chicago, IL 60620

Homegoing Celebration
Friday, June 21, 2024
Wake: 10:00 a.m.
Funeral: 11:00 a.m.

Saint John Church of God in Christ
7527 South Cottage Grove
Chicago, IL 60619

GMF extends condolences to the Graham family and the Pilgrim Jubilees. Another soldier is at rest.

Clay Graham of the Pilgrim Jubilees has died

By Libra Boyd
Clay Graham, lead singer of the Pilgrim Jubilees, has died.
Sadness saturated the gospel community last evening (March 13), following the Pilgrim Jubilees’ announcement that Clay Graham, the group’s lead singer, had passed.  GMF extends its heartfelt condolences to the family, friends, and fans of the quartet legend, as well as to elder brother Cleave and the Jubes.

A musical at the Prayer Center Baptist Church on 1432 W. 79th Street in Chicago will celebrate Graham’s life on Tuesday, March 20, at 7 PM.  The homegoing service will take place at 11 AM on Wednesday, March 21, at St. John COGIC.  The church is located at 7527 S. Cottage Grove Avenue.  
The Gospel Music Fever Show with Libra Boyd will play several of the Jubes’ songs in memory of Graham during its show on Monday, March 19, at 12 PM CT (1 PM ET).  Listen at
Our friend Bob Marovich from JGM shares more on Graham’s music career: RIP: Clay Graham of the Pilgrim Jubilees.

"Trouble in the Street" – The Pilgrim Jubilees

"Trouble in the Street" The Pilgrim Jubilees cover art
“Trouble in the Street”
The Pilgrim Jubilees
From the vinyl LP, Trouble in the Street (1997)
By Libra Boyd
The Pilgrim Jubilees were thought by some to be ahead of their time when they released their 1997 album, Trouble in the Street. The title track has in fact been around decades longer. Still, the evocative title song raised eyebrows and perked up ears with haunting sounds of gunshots, sirens, and authoritative voices shouting, “Get on the ground, Boy!”
Written by the Jubes’ frontman Clay Graham, “Trouble in the Street” is an emotive message song with social commentary that, sadly, is as relevant today as when first released.  When the song first came out, however, it failed to garner radio airplay.  The reason, Clay recalled in Alan Young’s book The Pilgrim Jubilees (University Press of Mississippi), was that some deejays thought lyrics about violence and senseless deaths were too pessimistic for the listeners.  Still, Clay remained hopeful that the time would come for his outcry to be heard.  After all that has happened in the nation in recent weeks and months, this may be that time. “We need Jesus!” proclaim the Jubes.

Breaking News: Ben Chandler of the Pilgrim Jubilees dies

Originally posted June 25, 2012 at 12:28PM 
Last updated June 29, 2012 at 3:53PM

Ben Chandler has diedBen Chandler, a longtime member of the Pilgrim Jubilees, died today.  He joined the group in 1970.  The Jubes commented on their Facebook page, “We will miss him dearly and there will never be another!” 

According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “services for Deacon Benjamin Chandler “Uncle Ben” of the Pilgrim Jubilees will be held, Saturday, June 30, 2012, at 10:00 AM at Mt. Patmos Baptist Church, Rev. Raleigh Rucker, Senior Pastor officiating. Interment Resthaven Gardens of Memory.  Survivors are wife, Gloria Chandler “GiGi”; ten children, three sisters, a host of grandchildren and other relatives and friends. A viewing will be held today from 10:00 AM until 8:30 PM.  A celebration will be held TONIGHT at the church at 7:00 PM. Please assemble at the church at 9:30 AM for the homegoing service.”