Tracing Rev. James Cleveland’s historic contributions to gospel
If you’re unfamiliar with the Reverend James Cleveland, you’re probably familiar with Aretha Franklin’s rendition of “Amazing Grace” — that performance was led by Rev. Cleveland and his Southern California Community Choir. It’s one of the greatest expressions of that spiritual ever recorded.
Reverend James Cleveland was and remains one of the most influential figures in gospel music, bar none. Today we’ll learn more about this musical giant thanks to my guest, Robert Marovich, a gospel historian and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Gospel Music. His new book, The King of Gospel Music: The Life and Music of Reverend James Cleveland, showcases Cleveland’s multiple talents as a musician, singer, composer, entrepreneur and educator. There’s also a new 54-song collection of Cleveland’s music to accompany the work, also called The King of Gospel Music.
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In this session, we talk to Marovich about Cleveland’s upbringing, impact, and significance, but first we get started with a recording from the new collection of music from Rev. Cleveland, called “Peace Be Still.”