Albertina Walker, Gospel Legend, Dies

Posted October 8, 2010 by J Matthew Cobb in Features

With over sixty albums under her belt, the Grammy-award winning gospel legend passes away at the age of 81

Hailed by many as the “Queen of Gospel Music,” Albertina Walker died at the age of 81.

The legendary gospel singer began her trek when she helped form the Caravans at the age of 22. The group, which became one of premiere gospel acts during the during the Golden Age, established the careers of members including Shirley Caesar, James Cleveland, Dorothy Norwood, Inez Andrews, Cassietta George, Delores Washington and disco legend Loleatta Holloway.

After disbanding the group in the mid-’60’s, Walker went on to record a number of solo projects on Savoy Records, including her first solo project Put A Little Love In Your Heart in 1975. Throughout her 60 years of music, she has recorded over 60 albums and won droves of gospel fans with her signature songs including “I’m Still Here,” “I Can Go to God in Prayer,” “Joy Will Come,” “Please Be Patient With Me” and “Lord Keep Me Day By Day.” She has had a number of gold-certified records and, in 1995, won a Grammy for Best Traditional Gospel Album (Songs of the Church: Live in Memphis). In 2006, she reunited with living Caravan alums on Paved the Way.

Albertina Walker had been admitted into the intensive care unit of an area Chicago hospital and underwent a tracheotomy surgery. She battled respiratory problems for a number of years, and spent the last few years of her life on a ventilator. Walker had been in the hospital since her 81st birthday on Aug. 29, and according to her publicist, passed away this morning at 4:30 AM.

Gospel artists rushed to their Twitter and Facebook pages to post their grievances over the passing of the gospel star.

Famed choir director and best-selling gospel artist Ricky Dillard tweeted, “There was always 1 voice I could depend on; 1 that would always tell me how proud she was of me & what God was doing w/ us: Albertina Walker.”

Gospel singer Beverly Crawford posted her expression of gratitude via Facebook: “My sweet Albertina Walker has gone home. We will miss her so. She has been a mother, a friend. She would always speak into our life. I would never forget her.”

Our very own Juanita Vann, arts & culture staff member at HiFi Magazine, posted a mini-tribute to her hometown buddy. “When I started doing radio at WYCA in Chicago, one of the first people who reached out to encourage me was Albertina Walker. I as surprised and elated to receive a call from someone so legendary. Over the years, she would give me advice, or tell me jokes. Rest in Peace to the Queen of Gospel. “

When Bob Marovich broke the news at his popular gospel site, the Black Gospel Blog, the flood of condolances started rushing in. “Thanks, everyone, for sharing your thoughts and memories,” he replied. “I will be playing a full hour of Caravans classics tomorrow morning on ‘Gospel Memories’ (WLUM) in Queen Albertina‘s memory.

Funeral services are still pending.

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine

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