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John Koegel

(b Puerto Príncipe, Cuba, ?Nov 28, 1844; d Havana, ?Dec 31, 1918). Pianist, music teacher, arranger, conductor, composer, and lawyer of Cuban birth, naturalized American. Born into a prominent family in Puerto Príncipe, Cuba (present-day Camagüey), Agramonte strongly supported the movement for independence from Spain. He studied music and the law in Cuba, Spain, and France. After vocal studies with Enrico Delle Sedie (1822–1907) and François Delsarte (1811–71) at the Paris Conservatory, he immigrated to the United States, settling in New York in 1869, where he remained until after Cuban independence in 1898. He became a US citizen in 1886.

In the 1870s and 1880s, Agramonte taught music at the Academy of Mount Saint Vincent in the Bronx. In the 1890s he taught with Dudley Buck and William Mason at the Metropolitan College of Music and ran his own School of Opera and Oratorio at his home, teaching singers such as ...

Article

Roxanne R. Reed

[Delois Barrett and the Barrett Sisters]

Gospel trio. Its members were Delores [Delois] (soprano), Billie (alto), and Rhodessa (high soprano) Barrett. Hailing from the Southside of Chicago, they grew up with seven other siblings and were members of the Morning Star Baptist Church where they sang in a choir directed by their aunt. As the Barrett–Hudson Singers, Delores and Billie had performed in a group with a cousin, whom Rhodessa later replaced to form the Barrett Sisters. Delores, the eldest and the group’s leader, started singing at the age of six. Her professional career began in earnest after graduating from Englewood High School, when she became the first female to join the Roberta Martin Singers (1944; see martin, Roberta ). Billie and Rhodessa received some formal training, but it was through the Roberta Martin Singers that Delores learned technique and honed her individual style, along with the unique ensemble quality known as the Roberta Martin sound. Delores continued to sing with Martin from time to time, even as the Barrett Sisters took shape. Getting their start as an African American gospel trio, the Barrett Sisters first recorded with the label Savoy (...

Article

Shawn Young

(b Paducah, KY, Nov 21, 1962). American singer-songwriter, record producer, and social activist. His father was a guitar teacher, and Steven played and sang at an early age. A respected figure in contemporary Christian music (CCM), Chapman is known for his unique mixture of country music, bluegrass, and pop-rock. The recipient of multiple Grammy Awards and Dove Awards, Chapman (along with Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith) set the standard for the burgeoning Nashville-based CCM music scene. His eclectic approach is, in part, a result of multiple collaborations throughout his career. Before becoming a CCM icon, Chapman penned songs for the Imperials, Sandi Patty, Charlie Daniels, and Glen Campbell.

Chapman’s country roots never dulled his ability to effectively emulate chart-topping artists of the mainstream. Influenced by Kenny Loggins and Huey Lewis, his first albums offered CCM fans the pop sensibilities of Top-40 music of the 1980s and 90s. A reflection on tragedy and commitment, “I Will Be Here” (Sparrow, ...

Article

Horace Clarence Boyer

(b Philadelphia, PA, c1939; d 1988). American gospel singer. He began singing as a youth with choirs in Philadelphia. In the early 1960s he appeared with Ruth Davis and the Davis Sisters in a series of concerts that introduced him to the gospel public. Later he moved to New York and sang with the Raymond Rasberry Singers before organizing his own group, the Isaac Douglas Singers. In October 1970, with Benny Diggs, he formed the New York Community Choir, an ensemble of 65 voices. Douglas, who was known for his strained-sounding baritone voice and extremely wide range, made several successful recordings with this choir, including “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so” and “Until you come again.” In the early 1970s he began an association with James Cleveland and the Gospel Music Workshop of America as soloist and choir director, and he conducted a series of concerts throughout the United States....

Article

Jonas Westover

(b Kitzingen, Bavaria, Germany, Feb 23, 1905; d Brookline, MA, March 10, 1995). Composer, organist, conductor, and writer on music, of German birth. After attending the State Academy of Music in Munich, Germany (1925–9), he worked as a conductor in both Bielefeld and Würzburg in the early 1930s. Because his Jewish background prevented him from holding a state position under the Nazis, he became enmeshed in Jewish musical life in Frankfurt, where he was a member of the Jüdischer Kulturbund and a musician for the West End Synagogue. He immigrated to the United States in 1937 and took up a position as organist for Temple Beth Zion in Buffalo, New York, until 1941. Between 1940 and 1941 he studied with paul Hindemith , and was influenced to adopt modernist techniques in setting Jewish subjects and texts. He moved to Boston, where he worked at Temple Israel from ...

Article

Darlene Graves and Michael Graves

[William J. ]

(b Alexandria, IN, March 28, 1936). American gospel songwriter, performer, producer, and publisher. He grew up on a small farm in Indiana and graduated from Anderson College with a major in English and a minor in music. He went on to receive a master’s degree in guidance and counseling and met his future wife and song-producing partner, Gloria Sickal, while both were teaching high school. Gaither started singing gospel music as a child and in 1956 formed the Bill Gaither Trio with his brother Danny and his sister Mary Ann. He started his own publishing company in 1959. He continued to perform and compose while a teacher at Alexandria High School and in 1961 formed the Gaither Music Company to publish his works. After their marriage in 1962, Gaither and his wife wrote their first major song, “He touched me,” which was a significant hit by 1963. He re-formed the Bill Gaither Trio with Gloria and Danny, and in ...

Article

J. Bryan Burton

[Goyaałé, Goyathlay, Goyahkla ]

(b New Mexico, 1829; d Fort Sill, OK, Feb 17, 1909). Native American instrument maker, singer, medicine man, prophet, and military leader. He is better known in Western history for his military leadership of Western Apache resistance to reservation life during the 1880s. Goyaałé (“One who yawns”) was given the name Geronimo after an attack on a Mexican village on St. Jerome’s day when terrified Mexican soldiers cried out “Jeronimo” appealing for help from St. Jerome. After his surrender he was held as a prisoner of war, first in St. Augustine, Florida, then in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, until his death. His celebrity was such that he often made public appearances, including at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, rode in Theodore Roosevelt’s inaugural parade in 1904, and wrote an autobiography with S.M. Barrett, the Oklahoma superintendent of education.

As a medicine man (Apache: diyan), Goyaałé performed Apache sacred ceremonies and rituals that required the knowledge of a vast repertoire of traditional songs sung during the ceremonies. A number of the songs he created were collected for Natalie Curtis’s ...

Article

Shawn Young

(b Augusta, GA, Nov 25, 1960). American singer-songwriter and author. Amy Grant is one of the most successful artists in Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) and one of the first CCM musicians to achieve major success in the general market. Grant’s love for music was crystallized when her family moved from Augusta to Nashville, the center of the gospel and country music industries. Her rise to fame began when a demo tape she made for her parents fell into the hands of Chris Christian at the Home Sweet Home recording studio where Grant swept the floors. At 15 she was offered a contract with Word Records. Word’s subsidiary label, Myrrh, released Grant’s first set of albums, produced by Brown Bannister, former leader of Grant’s high school youth fellowship. Her breakthrough effort, Age to Age (1982) became the first CCM album to be certified platinum, in 1985. Lead Me On...

Article

Emmett G. Price III

(b Oakland, CA, Aug 18, 1943). American gospel singer, songwriter, and producer. He began piano at five and by seven accompanied the Hawkins family group. In 1967 along with Betty Watson, he founded the Northern California State Youth Choir with the aim of singing at the annual COGIC youth conference in Washington DC. As a fundraiser, the choir recorded Let Us Go Into the House. Although the group planned to sell the album locally, “Oh Happy Day,” played on San Francisco’s KSAN and became an instant hit. Renamed the Edwin Hawkins Singers, the choir signed to the Budda label in 1969 and toured worldwide, including many non-religious venues such as jazz clubs, concert halls, and stadiums. Since 1969, “Oh Happy Day” has sold over seven million copies and Hawkins’s arrangement remains the signature arrangement in gospel music.

Throughout the 1970s, 80s, and 90s Hawkins continued to tour, compose, and record. He has produced some 20 albums, though none has matched the success of his first. In ...

Article

Emmett G. Price III

[Lady Tramaine Hawkins; The Lady]

(b San Francisco, CA, Oct 11, 1951). American gospel singer. Raised in the Ephesian Church of God in Christ, pastored by her grandfather, Bishop Elmer Elisha Cleveland, Tramaine Davis emerged as one of the most noted voices in contemporary gospel music during the 1970s. Her first recording was “I Love the Lord” as a member of the Heavenly Tones, a group that would later sing background with Sly & The Family Stone as Little Sister. In 1967 Edwin Hawkins assembled the Northern California State Youth Choir, with Tramaine as soloist. In addition to touring with the Edwin Hawkins Singers she also spent time with Andraé Crouch & the Disciples. In March of 1971 she and gospel songwriter and singer Walter Hawkins married. Although the two would later divorce, together they built a gospel music dynasty and dynamic ministry through the Love Alive album series and established the Love Center Ministries, Inc. in Oakland, California....