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Rev. James Cleveland

The visionary behind the contemporary gospel sound, the Rev. James Cleveland, was a pioneering composer and choral director whose progressive arrangements -- jazzy and soulful, complete with odd time signatures -- helped push the music past the confines of the traditional Baptist hymnal into new and unexpected directions, infusing elements of the sanctified church style and secular pop to alter the face of gospel forever. Born in Chicago on December 5, 1932, Cleveland was a boy soprano at Pilgrim Baptist Church, the home of minister of music Thomas A. Dorsey; as his parents were unable to afford a piano, he crafted a makeshift keyboard out of a windowsill, somehow learning to play without ever producing an actual note. When his voice changed, becoming gruff and harsh, Cleveland continued singing, developing into an expressive crooner; for the most part, however, he focused on piano, becoming a top-notch accompanist.

In 1950, Cleveland signed on as a pianist and occasional third lead with the Gospelaires, a trio led by Norsalus McKissick and Bessie Folk; although the group was short-lived, it brought him to the attention of pianist Roberta Martin, for whom he began composing. Even his earliest material reflects a bluesy, funkified style well ahead of its time, while his arrangements of traditional spirituals like "Old Time Religion" and "It's Me O Lord" were highly stylized, almost unrecognizable from their usual interpretations. By the mid-'50s, Cleveland was a member of the Caravans, not only playing piano but also narrating hymns in his rough yet relaxing voice; despite the group's success, however, he kept quitting and rejoining their ranks, earning a reputation as a highly temperamental character. He also played briefly with groups including the Meditation Singers and the Gospel All-Stars; in 1959, he also cut a rendition of Ray Charles' "Hallelujah I Love Her So," his first overt attempt to bridge gospel and R&B.

Although Cleveland kept drifting from group to group, his reputation continued to grow -- with the Gospel Chimes, he cut a series of records which veered sharply from pop-inflected ballads to fiery shouters, arranging harmonies which straddled the line between the current group style and the rapidly developing choir sound. By 1960, he was clearly well ahead of the pack; "The Love of God," a cover of a Soul Stirrers number he cut with the Detroit choir the Voices of Tabernacle, was a breakthrough hit, his fusion of pop balladry and choir spirit finally reaching its apotheosis. After years of struggle, Cleveland was now a major star, and across the country, choir directors began mimicking his style; he soon signed to Savoy, where he recorded with the All-Stars and Chimes as well as his own group, the Cleveland Singers, which featured on organ a young Billy Preston. His third Savoy LP, 1962's live Peace Be Still, made history, selling an astonishing 800,000 copies to an almost exclusively black audience without the benefit of mainstream promotion.

The success of Peace Be Still established Cleveland as arguably the most crucial figure to emerge in gospel since Mahalia Jackson; throughout the '60s, when hit status for spiritual records typically reflected sales of five thousand copies, his LPs regularly sold five times that amount. Additionally, his annual Gospel Singers Workshop Convention -- an outgrowth of his organization the Gospel Workshop of America -- helped launch the careers of numerous younger talents, a generation of artists largely inspired by the modernized sound pioneered by Cleveland himself. During the '70s, he remained a towering figure, leading his latest creation, the Southern California Community Choir, and recording prolifically; although his pace began to slow in the decade that followed -- and despite his death on February 9, 1991 -- Cleveland's shadow continues to loom large across the gospel landscape. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Harvest Collection

1. Lord Do It

2. Old Time Religion

3. Get Right Church

4. Something's Got A Hold On Me

5. I Know It Was The Blood

6. God Can Do Anything But Fail

7. Meeting Tonight

8. Deep River

9. Good Enough For Me

10. Greater Day

11. He's Got His Eye On You

12. One More Time

x

Track List: Platinum Gospel: Rev. James Cleveland

1. God Can Do Anything But Fail

2. I Walk With God

3. It's Gonna Be Late

4. Old Time Religion

5. Try Jesus

6. Lord Do It

7. I Know It Was The Blood

8. Somethings's Got A Hold On Me

9. Get Right Church

10. I'm A Soldier In The Army Of The Lord

11. Plenty Good Room

12. Oh To Be Kept By Jesus

x

Track List: Sings With The World's Greatest Choirs

1. Touch Me

2. I Stood On The Banks Of Jordan

3. Soon I Will Be Done With The Troubles Of The World

4. Narration

5. I Want To Be Ready When You Come

6. Say You Love Me

7. God Made Something Beautiful Out Of My Life

8. Lord Let Me Be An Instrument

9. Let Him In Today

10. He Shall Feed His Flock

11. Give Me Flowers

12. Tomorrow

13. Where Is Your Faith In God

14. Victory Shall Be Mine

15. We Serve A God, A Mighty Good God

16. One More Time

Comments

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Beginning a most beatiful day. It is a most . Benovelent expression of mine. For all to enjoy a busy. Start of the week. Please be safe,and blessed. During your daily activity!
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When you have,what you got.
Make a best of the origin lot...
Be thankful for your own gift.
Preserver and trust not to drift#
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My people.Liste n very
carefully. Try not to
speak in notice of
the problems.We all
endore ,except the
grace recieved as
a reward to perfer!
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When you pray.....
As others pray......
Then you wait.......
Miracles happen..
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Everyone should know.....Jes u s Christ of Nazareth.
Being.
1 in 3 persons of a human body.
@ the time of his birth to resurrection .
That means......o f many characters.
HE GOT ANGRY.....fr o m time to time.
Eg. When over-throwin g . The tables
of yhe game-regoniz e - g a m e r s ( I n the Temple).
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i count myself."BLES S E D " . . . . . b e i n g an instrument of loving kindness. In which has been extended.... . b u t . . . . . i f a divine intention.
Is taken 'for granted'.... . c i r c u m s t a n c e s . . . . . I m m e d i a t e l y change!!!!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
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PLEASE DON'T LEAVE ME JESUS AMEN NO MATTER WHAT I WILL ALWAYS TRUST YOU LORD AMEN
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I DON'T MIND THE PITFALLS BECAUSE I KNOW JESUS YOU ARE ALWAYS.THERE AMEN
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REMEMBER PLEASE...... T O SILENTLY PRAY FOR THOSE
PRAYING FOR YOUR WELL BEING!
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thank you Jesus for James Cleveland
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l_grandison
I love old school gospel songs.. it's ALL ABOUT THE STORY that just gives me chills.. Tell me where is your faith in God!
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How many know.....El Sha Dah....shall never pass???
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My faith is in the spirit. That continues to seek solace!!!!!
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I don't believe He brought me this far! To leave me!
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dbates705
I love Rev James CLEVELAND SONGS THEY ARE CALLED GLUE SONGS THEY STICK TO YOU.
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I am a walking testimony oh this space nor paper or tongues i couldn't say all the healing and sustain all the time they sent me home to die and here playing gospel music and praising and worship with my family
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I really love to hear Rev. James Cleveland sing. He could sing watermelon watermelon and it would sound good to me. He really tell a story in his songs. I wish I could have seen him sing at a concert it really would have been very spiritual. God granted him favor on his life. Now he is singing with the Angels. I love this man's singing.
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Cy
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I have been through so much and He took me through to grow to be so in love with God Thank you Jesus Christ
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LORD YOU ARE MY WAY MAKER AND I KNOW YOU WILL DO IT FOR ME MY FAITH IN YOU LETS ME KNOW AMEN
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YES LORD THIS TOO SHALL PASS AMEN I TRUST GOD AND I HAVE FAITH
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The Rev. James Cleveland can sing watermelon watermelon and it is going to sound real good to me. I really love me so Rev. James Cleveland. I really hate that he isn't still around to keep telling life's story through his music.
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ecarter8128
I love JAMES CLEVELAND..
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I like this version. I like to multitask and this song was perfect for brushing my teeth dancing a jig and enjoying myself in the Lord. Then I got a sermon from this song when it sings the part, he healed my body and told me to run on. Do you remember the story of the woman with the issue of blood she spent all her money and got worse? And when she saw Jesus she touch the hem of his garment and what did Jesus say to her? He said daughter " your " faith made "you" whole. You have the faith to ge
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george10190
Powerful Gospel, Def. Life changing.... . . And I'm ah young CRISTIAN, KEEP THE FAITH!!
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Hatdin 7j you are growing through not staying there be blessed
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Cassandra Castle i love this song so much me and mother would song all quartets of anybody thank you Jesus my mother iand father and many of siblings as well but i never was not bitter because the truth be told they are cheering me to make the mark
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Thank you God for this day and the music from James Cleveland.
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Hallelujah, Praise God, and Amen!!
This Too Shall Pass because God Will Fix It.
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This Rev. James Cleveland was a powerhouse also. Never heard him preach but he can Minister his but off. I really thank God for his life and legacy. We have all the music to still listen too. When I'm having a bad day I listen to him or Rev. Clay Evans and "This Too Shall Pass".
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Can't nobody do me like Jesus
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HALLELUJAH JESUS TO GOD BE THE GLORY!!I NEVER MET REV.CLEVELAN D ON THIS SIDE BUT ONE THING I'M CERTAIN OF IS THAT I WILL SEE HIM AT THE HOLY GHOST PARTY IN HEAVEN,GOD USED HIM IN A MIGHTY WAY I MUST SAY HE FOUGHT THE GOOD FIGHT!!! GOD REST HIS SOUL, I LOVE YOU SO MUCH LORD THANK YOU!!!!
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even in my tail and test i don't believe he will leave me( GOD)
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PLEASE DONT LEAVE ME JESUS AMEN lowery247
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starrking80
listen god is always a prayer away just call on his name in time of need /despair what ever god will fix it amen
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starrking80
I love this man for all his old tyme gospel songs nothing like the best god lives 4 ever starr god bless james and all the others who have moved on to be with the great god almighty keep on praying an beliving no matter what your going thru god is always there he will fight your battles if you just be still live on live on god bless every one aman
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hardin7j3
Love this song the battle is not over give me strength lord a true song amen
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I ben to his church Cornerstone institutiona l Baptist Church Boy they use to have some real church
I miss cornerstone and Rev. Cleveland
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I saw him in concert when I was about 8-9 years old. He was an awesome holy spirit lead performer. I know he had his shortcoming but so did most of God's chosen people in the Bible.
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Noboby.....i mean...not a single solitary.... . s o u l . . . . t o l d me. THE ROAD WAS GOING TO BE EASY......YE T . . . w i t h JESUS IT GETS. "Sweeter!!!! "
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poohbearl97
JAMES Cleveland
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Only God can judge. Despite his imperfection , he continues to inspire me and a whole lot of others that believe in and feel the holy spirit. Amen.
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mixbreed602
My favorite gospel artist
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I have grown up off him....my God, our God has not forgotten, believe in his WORD.. He sends his musical angels to INSPIRE... Rev. James Cleveland was one of many. PRAISE The LORD
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bettyc021539
Love his songs uplifting Peace Be Still one of my favorite
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Yes I do believe
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theharmon25
Rev james Cleveland.
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magnificent music
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I DONT BELIEVE HE BROUGHT ME THIS FAR!!!!!
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Learn this!YOUNG PEOPLE...... . . . . . i n less than a next 45 minutes. Parts of Jefferson co. Alabama. According to recent. Weather Alerts,shall experience(d e p e n d i n g on wind & tempeture varaition.)
Wintery-mix. Causing hazardous road travel conditions. Please drive , and or, dress accordingly.
BE AWARE. SHOW CARE. PREPARE.
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