Queen of Soul Tributes Queen of Gospel
By Dr. Teresa Hairston
Photos by www.dbarge.com
On Friday, October 15, 2010, Mrs. Albertina Walker dubbed the “Queen of Gospel”, was remembered by friends, family and luminaries from all arenas as one of Gospel music\’s greatest pioneers. Her funeral was attended by luminaries including Governor Pat Quinn, Rep. Bobby Rush, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., Tramaine Hawkins, Edwin Hawkins, Yolanda Adams and The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, who sang a musical tribute. President Barack Obama also issued an official statement.
Mrs. Walker was born in 1929 in Chicago, IL. At the age of four, she began singing in the Children’s Choir of the West Point Baptist Church under the direction of Professor Pete Williams. During her formative years, America had was in the height of the Great Depression and although the black church was at center of black culture, Gospel music was in its formative stages.
Chicago was the hub of Gospel, led by great pioneers like Professor Thomas A. Dorsey, Sallie Martin, Kenneth Morris, Rosetta Thorpe, and Albertina’s personal friend, Mahalia Jackson.
In 1951 at just 22, Mrs. Walker organized the world famous Caravans, consisting of Elyse Yancy, Nellie Grace Daniels, and OraLee Hopkins Samson. Over the years, the group experienced several personnel changes, and launched some of Gospel\’s most successful careers including:
Pastor Shirley Caesar, Inez Andrews, Delores Washington, Cassietta George, Evangelist Dorothy Norwood and the “King of Gospel” the Reverend James Cleveland. This rightfully earned Mrs. Walker the title “The Star Maker”. The Caravans produced several hits including: Sweeping Through The City, Mary Don’t You Weep, Walk Around Heaven, and Lord Keep Me Day By Day.
Mrs. Walker went on to phenomenal success as a solo artist, recording her first project Put A Little Love In Your Heart in 1975. To date, she has recorded over 60 albums, including gold selling hits Please Be Patient With Me, I Can Go To God In Prayer, The Best Is Yet To Come, Impossible Dream, and Joy Will Come.
Mrs. Walker was committed to the preservation of gospel music and the enhancement of the human experience. To this end, she has lent her support to many organizations, most notably, her own Albertina Walker Scholarship Foundation for the Creative and Performing Arts. The foundation offers financial assistance to college students in the form of scholarships to further their education in the field of music.
Ms. Walker’s personal and television appearances worldwide are too numerous to mention. However, she has sung for United States President George Bush, former President Bill Clinton, and The President of South Africa, President Nelson Mandela. Albertina has appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show”, “Good Morning America”, and “The Travis Smiley Show”. Albertina is a frequent guest on the nationally syndicated BET and Word television show, “Bobby Jones Gospel”, “Testify” and “Singsation”.Her fans have also enjoyed her in the motion picture “Leap of Faith” starring Steve Martin, “Going Home to Gospel with Patti Labelle”, the Off Broadway play “The Gospel Truth”, and “The Evolution of Gospel”.
Many remembered Mrs. Walker as a woman who always supported and reached out to those who were less fortunate and had a heart of young people.