August 24, 2012
Willa Ward, 91, who lent her pure, note-bending voice to the Ward Singers, one of the most famous and influential groups of what is considered the golden age of gospel singing, died in Philadelphia on Aug. 12. Her daughter Rita Scarlet confirmed her death. The Ward Singers' 1950 hit "Surely God Is Able" was one of nearly 90 songs that the group recorded in its heyday, from the mid-1940s to the late '50s. "I think they were the best gospel group in the golden era," Tony Heilbut, a gospel historian, record producer, and author of The Gospel Sound (1971)
August 15, 2012 |
SHE WAS 88 years old, but here's how an interviewer described her in 2009: "Her gold-toned pants with matching top, large jeweled earrings that sparkle brilliantly as they catch the light, and her gold high heels serve as the ideal ensemble within a beautifully aged home that is dripping with old Hollywood elegance. " That was Willa Ward, agelessly beautiful and still radiating the electric energy that made her a star as a member of the legendary Ward Singers, the Philadelphia-based gospel group, and later when she began singing pop standards on her own. Renowned for her beauty, talent and charm, Willa also was a fine pianist who could have had a career on the piano.
July 2, 2012 |
Attending Gospel Sunday during the city's July Fourth celebration is a must for Ozella Smith, of Mount Airy, but this year she decided to move from her seat in the audience to the stage. The adult literacy teacher - and second soprano - was one of 75 local residents who sang Sunday at Penn's Landing as part of a mass choir assembled especially for the Wawa Welcome America! celebration. Smith, who was trained in opera, was nervous. "It's blowing my mind the way God works.
June 30, 2012 |
Nobody gives a birthday party for the USA like Philadelphia, and for Uncle Sam's 236th, Wawa Welcome America! has a glorious celebration planned with fireworks, concerts, lots of food, and children's activities. On Friday morning, the Go 4th and Learn series is at the Philadelphia Zoo. From 10 a.m. to noon, there will be all sorts of hands-on activities throughout America's first zoo, particularly with rare and endangered species such as lemurs from Madagascar, mole rats, and tree kangaroos.
June 24, 2012 |
Gabriel S. Hardeman Jr., 68, of Philadelphia, a singer and songwriter known for his gospel group, the Gabriel Hardeman Delegation, died Saturday, June 16, at Presbyterian Hospital of interstitial fibrosis, a lung disease. Mr. Hardeman, a Philadelphia public schoolteacher and coach, who became a preacher in Georgia in recent years, was the son of the Rev. Gabriel S. Hardeman Sr., founder of the Hickman Temple A.M.E. Church in West Philadelphia. Though he led the gospel group, he and his wife, Annette, achieved renown by cowriting rhythm-and-blues hits.
April 12, 2012 |
AXL ROSE does not have an appetite for induction. The Guns N' Roses co-founder announced Wednesday through his publicist that he will not attend the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony on Saturday in Cleveland, according to a letter received by the Los Angeles Times. The note was written under the greeting, "To The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, Guns N' Roses Fans and Whom It May Concern. " The band, born in L.A. in 1985, was announced to join Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beastie Boys and Donovan, among others, as new entrants into the hall, leading to what some hoped would be the long-awaited reunion of the 1993 lineup.
April 6, 2012 |
By Maria Archangelo I had my first glimmer of hope when I saw my sometimes self-conscious 14-year-old son play air drums with Max Weinberg to "Jackson Cage. " But it was when he sang "Thunder Road" with 20,000 of the faithful that I knew I had him. I had taken my son to the church of Bruce Springsteen, and he came out a believer. Amen. Going to see Springsteen with my son was a thrilling prospect, but I grew anxious as the day approached. My son is a musician, so I knew he would be impressed by the mighty talent of the E Street Band.
April 6, 2012 |
If the monthly Gospel Brunch at Johnny Brenda's is like a hipster church, then its minister is David April, a/k/a DJ DNA. April has hosted the brunch since Easter Sunday 2010; he's also hosted "Roots of Rhythm & Blues" and "The Gospel Train" for 20 years on Hatboro's WRDV-FM. To celebrate that anniversary, he'll preach musical truth Saturday with a live gospel show at the venue. The "Gospel, Soul & Rhythm-'n'-Blues Review" will feature performances by the York Street Hustle, a Philadelphia-based, nine-piece ensemble that plays '60s soul; Philadelphia's gospel-based God's Grace, which typically performs at local churches; and Carlton Lewis III, a member of the famed gospel group the Dixie Hummingbirds who has since embarked on a solo soul career.
March 22, 2012 |
On the other end of the phone line, Joshua Nelson is breaking into a traditional cantorial rendition of "Adon Olom , " the Hebrew prayer that ends most Shabbat morning services. In an instant, your whole childhood sitting in synagogue emerges vividly in deep, operatic vibrato. There's no doubt that Nelson - an African American Jew who traces his Jewish roots to Senegal and Romania - can do 15th-century traditional singing. But then he ramps into his own version of "Adon Olom , " in a style he calls "kosher gospel" - drawn from his devotion to both old-fashioned Mahalia Jackson-style gospel and traditional Jewish worship - and a whole new world of spiritual reckoning comes into being.
March 6, 2012 |
Philip Barrett of Philadelphia works two jobs, but he doesn't want that to be his life. In February, battling stress, he withdrew from Towson University in Maryland, but he hopes to return to college. Marcy Allen of Salem, N.J., graduated from college in 2010 with degrees in theater and French, but the only employment she could find was as a part-time mail carrier - the job she held the summer after her freshman year at Rider University. The two, both in their 20s and navigating unexpected bumps in life, have found solace and strength in a Wednesday night Bible study group in Camden led by a man whose own youthful charisma, they say, is part of the attraction.