Albertina Walker, the reigning Queen of Gospel, has died at 81. Albertina Walker
was born in Chicago on Aug. 28, 1929, and was one of nine children. As a child, Walker had been a standout singer at West Point Baptist Church in Chicago. There, she was inspired by entertainers such as professor Thomas A. Dorsey
and Mahalia Jackson
, who became Walker's friend and mentor. She went on to join the Pete Williams Singers and the Robert Anderson Singers.
At the age of twenty Walker founded The Caravans
, and was instrumental in launching the careers of Bessie Griffin
, Shirley Caesar
, Dorothy Norwood
, Inez Andrews
, Delores Washington
, and her good friend James Cleveland
After a stellar career with the Caravans, Walker went on to phenomenal success as a solo artist, recording over sixty albums. She won a Grammy in 1995 for the Best Traditional Gospel Album (Songs of The Church - Live in Memphis
), earned ten Grammy Award nominations, had five gold records, and was inducted in 2001 into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame
in Nashville, Tennessee. She made a cameo appearance
in the 1992 movie "Leap of Faith," starring Steve Martin, and reportedly brought the cast to tears with her singing. And in 1994, the city of Chicago honored Ms. Walker by naming a street after her: Albertina Walker and the Caravans Drive.
Reflecting on her craft, Ms. Walker said she most admired the healing quality of her music.
"If you're feeling bad and somebody sings a gospel song, you automatically forget your problems," she told the Chicago Sun-Times. "Everything about the Lord is sweet," she said. "I don't know how I would have managed if I didn't have a song to sing."
A Short History of Albertina Walker
Pres. Obama on Walker's passing
Some of Albertina Walker's most famous songs:
I Know the Lord Will Make A Way
Tell Him Want You Want
Mary, Don't You Weep
Lord, Keep Me Day By Day