december 2011



This month we honor four Gospel Warriors who have crossed over since our previous installment of News & Notes in November 2011. Godspeed to all.


GENE VIALE of the James Cleveland Singers

Min. Gene Viale, member of the famed James Cleveland Singers during the mid-‘60s, has died. He was 65 years old.

Born on October 31, 1946, Viale began singing at the age of five. In 1964, he joined the James Cleveland Singers and recorded two albums with them, Heaven, That Will Be Good Enough for Me and another that remains unreleased. Viale served in the U.S. Army from 1966 to 1968, and was licensed to preach in 1967. In 1968, Viale released his first solo record, What Color Is God, on the Checker label, and made his first appearance on Jubilee Showcase. Through the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, Viale toured the country with gospel singers and appeared on programs with singers such as James Cleveland, Inez Andrews, Shirley Caesar, the Mighty Clouds of Joy, and Dorothy Norwood.

In 2007, Viale was ordained by The Fellowship by Bishop Yvette Flunder, and last year recounted his career in his book I Remember Gospel.

Viale’s passing is another blow to the Golden Era Gospel community, which also lost powerful voices such as Delois Barrett Campbell and Jessy Dixon in 2011. Viale worked with the Golden Era giants of his day, including Mahalia Jackson, Cassietta George, the Staple Singers, the Roberta Martin Singers, the Ward Singers, Doris Akers, the Caravans, the Gospel Harmonettes, the Argo Singers, Sallie Martin, the Barrett Sisters, the Davis Sisters, the Five Blind Boys of Alabama, and many more.


LISA E. BURROUGHS of the Richard Smallwood Singers

Lisa Burroughs Allen, an original member of the Richard Smallwood Singers, passed away on November 23, 2011, in Washington, D.C.. Cause of death has not been released. Ms. Allen is survived by her husband, Robert K. Allen, Sr., a son, Robert K. Allen, Jr., daughters Brittney and Bianca Burroughs; her father, Bishop Charlie Burroughs, Sr.; and a granddaughter, Charlie S. Burroughs-James; siblings, Florence Gatling, Carolyn Johnson, Dorothy Dunn, Charlie, Jr., Melvin and Theophilus Burroughs. She was preceded in death by mother, Lillie Mae Burroughs and brother, Titus Burroughs.

Richard Smallwood and the Smallwood Singers, 'Jesus, the Light of the World,' with Lisa Burroughs singing second lead.



Barnett Williams, founder and president of Born Again Records, home of Christian comedian Broderick E. Rice, James Grear and Company, Mary Floyd, 5 A.M. Praise, Tim "Bishop" Brown and Sonya Barry, among others, passed away on November 11, 2011. With over 30 recordings and 15 Billboard chart toppers, Born Again Records has become one of the leading independent gospel record labels.




Archie Swindell, Jr. reports that Jessie B. Swindell of the famous Swindell Brothers quartet, died of liver cancer on December 8, 2011 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Bro. Jessie was the bass singer and manager of the Swindell Brothers from 1954 until the group disbanded in 1999.

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