James Cleveland

Born Dec 5, 1931

The Reverend Dr. James Cleveland was a gospel singer, arranger, composer and, most significantly, the driving force behind the creation of the modern gospel sound, bringing the stylistic daring of hard gospel and jazz and pop music influences to arrangements for mass choirs. He is known as the King of Gospel music.… Read More

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Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of James Cleveland.


1931 Birth Born in 1931.


1950 19 Years Old In 1950, Cleveland joined the Gospelaires, a trio led by Norsalus McKissick and Bessie Folk. … Read More


1954 23 Years Old Cleveland subsequently went to work for Albertina Walker, popularly referred to as the "Queen of Gospel" and The Caravans as a composer, arranger, pianist, and occasional singer/narrator. In November 1954, Albertina Walker provided him the opportunity to do his very first recording. … Read More
1957 26 Years Old He continued to record with The Caravans until States closed thdown in 1957. … Read More
1959 28 Years Old In 1959, he recorded a version of Ray Charles' hit, "Hallelujah I Love Her So", as a solo artist.


1962 31 Years Old James Cleveland signed with Savoy Records in 1962, going on to release a huge catalog of black gospel recordings, many of which were recorded in a live concert setting. … Read More
1963 32 Years Old His 1963 recording of "Peace Be Still", an obscure 18th-century piece, sold hundreds of thousands of copies. … Read More
1964 33 Years Old In 1964, Cleveland re-organized The James Cleveland Singers which included Odessa McCastle, Roger Roberts, and Gene Viale.
1965 34 Years Old In 1965, Cleveland added Clyde Brown and Charles Barnett to his group which by then was traveling extensively throughout the United States and abroad into the late 1960s, performing in all major venues. … Read More


1990 59 Years Old From the 1970s until 1990, Cleveland would bring together a number of artists to back him on appearances and records. … Read More


On February 9, 1991, James Cleveland died in Culver City, California. … Read More
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