Monday, February 11, 1991 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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`King Of Gospel' James Cleveland


LOS ANGELES - Gospel great the Rev. James Cleveland, who helped teach Aretha Franklin how to sing and returned choirs to the forefront of gospel music, has died. He was 59.

The three-time Grammy winner died Saturday at Brotman Medical Center, where he was admitted Thursday with respiratory problems.

The Rev. Marvin Winan, leader of The Winans, said the Rev. Cleveland reigned as the ``king of gospel'' and inspired numerous performers.

``He was not to me a great vocalist, but he was a great interpreter,'' Winan said. ``James could make you see the song.''

The Rev. Cleveland, a Baptist minister, pianist, composer, arranger and producer, often called his baritone voice a fog horn. He wrote or arranged more than 400 gospel songs, including ``Everything Will Be All Right,'' ``The Love of God'' and ``Peace Be Still.''

The Rev. Cleveland was born Dec. 5, 1931, and grew up on the South Side of Chicago. Later, he moved into the home of the Rev. C.L. Franklin, father of soul legend Aretha Franklin. He taught the 9-year-old Aretha how to sing gospel and later produced her Grammy-winning album, ``Amazing Grace.''

``Cleveland was a choir man,'' Winan said, noting that early gospel music began with choirs and was advanced by singers such as Mahalia Jackson.

The Rev. Cleveland helped return choirs to the forefront of gospel music, Winan said.

Sixteen of Rev. Cleveland's albums went gold, and he was the first gospel artist to receive a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. In addition to Aretha Franklin, he worked with Quincy Jones, Gladys Knight and Edwin Hawkins.

Copyright (c) 1991 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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