Albertina Walker, who passed away Friday, October 8, 2010, was always a class act. Yes--she dressed beautifully and carried herself the way "The Queen of Gospel" should. But the classiest thing about her is that she leaves a legacy of sharing, caring, and keeping it moving!
She created one of the greatest gospel groups in history, The Caravans featuring Dorothy Norwood, Shirley Caesar, Cassietta George, James Cleveland, Inez Andrews, Delores Washington and others. When she added most of these now legendary artists, they were relative unknowns. Pastor Caesar was still a teenager!
Each singer added a unique layer to the group that some have called the most star-studded ensemble ever assembled, recording such classics as "Lord, Keep Me Day by Day," ""Sweeping through the City," "Oh Mary Don't You Weep," and many more.
But Albertina Walker was far more than the Grammy, Stellar and other awards could ever indicate. Here are a few lessons from her spectacular life:
1) Share. We're all in this together, so there is enough room for everyone to shine. Ms.Walker seemed to know that no matter who was on the mic (Norwood, Cleveland, Ceasar, Andrews), if the audience was having a good time and if God was getting the glory, that was all that mattered.
2) Care. She began a scholarship foundation in 1988, and according to her website, she distributed more than $50,000 to students. How terrific for these young people to see someone do more than sing about reaching out to others!
3) Keep it moving. After the Caravan years, Ms. Walker when on to record great songs as a solo artist. including "I Can Go to God in Prayer" and "Spread the Word." But when the time was right in 2006, she and her musical friends, women of a certain age whom she still called "The Girls," went into the recording studio and got on the road one more time. The result was the hit CD, "Paved the Way."
This is a great day to celebrate her life and take a page from her lesson book!
Author, motivational speaker and university professor Deborah Smith Pollard, Ph.D., first attracted national attention when she was named Gospel Announcer of the Year during the 20th annual Stellar Awards, called The Grammys of Gospel Music.
Pollard is a recognized expert on contemporary gospel music with a knowledge base that is the result of her dual career: Associate Professor of English Literature and Humanities at University of Michigan-Dearborn and award-winning gospel radio announcer Sunday mornings, 6-10 AM, on FM 98 WJLB, Detroit's top rated station for young adults.
She has published both academic and popular articles on various aspects of gospel music.
Her book, When the Church Becomes Your Party: Contemporary Gospel Music (Wayne State University Press 2008, includes chapters on praise and worship in the urban church, gospel musical stage plays, the changing dress code in gospel music and the Black church, women gospel announcers and holy hip hop/Christian rap.