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Barrows, Cliff(ord)  

Jonas Westover

(b Ceres, CA, Apr 6, 1923). American Evangelical music director, media personality, and administrator. Barrows studied sacred music and Shakespearean drama at Bob Jones University (BA 1944) and was ordained a minister in the Baptist church. He became a full-time worker with Youth For Christ in the immediate postwar years, and in 1945 joined the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association as music director. In 1950, Barrows became the host and crusade choir director for Graham’s Hour of Decision radio (and later television) program, a post which he still held in 2011. From 1965–70, Barrows was the president of World Wide Pictures, Graham’s film production company. He appeared in the film His Land (1970) alongside pop star Cliff Richard. Barrows has also edited many collections of gospel music for Graham’s Association. For his significant contributions to the field of music, he was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in ...


Chapman, Steven Curtis  

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, ...


Gaither, Bill  

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 ...


Hawkins, Edwin R.  

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 ...


Jones, Bobby  

Carrie Allen Tipton

(b Henry, TN, Sept 18, 1938). American gospel music television and radio host, singer, choir director, and media executive. He began singing publicly in the Methodist church as a child, although his first exposure to gospel music came in sanctified churches. His involvement with gospel music deepened in Nashville when he served as keyboard player, singer, and director for church and civic choirs while studying at Tennessee State University. In 1978 Jones recorded the first of many albums with his small ensemble, the New Life Singers, whose aesthetic leaned more toward contemporary Christian music than black gospel. Around this time he began hosting children’s and gospel music shows on Nashville television stations. In 1980 Black Entertainment Television began broadcasting one of these programs, Bobby Jones Gospel. The popular program has featured performances by Jones’s ensembles, established gospel stars, and up-and-coming gospel artists. Firmly within the gospel entrepreneurial tradition, Jones’s other enterprises include music festivals, workshops, radio shows, the gospel opera ...