Rev. James Cleveland
The mighty Reverend James Cleveland has been a leading figure in keeping Gospel music a vital musical force based in tradition while also adding more secular elements to broaden the audience. His gruff, powerful vocals were used as a loose narrative where he would speak over deliberate, solidly played piano runs. In the mid-'50s, he began singing with the Caravans and broke records with his 1962 recording Peace Be Still. Until the end of his life in '91, he stayed on top of the game, leading choirs and Gospel workshops while managing to infuse the sound of Gospel with rhythm and soul. Listening to the slow percolation of the organs and the smoky raspiness of his vocals on his classic tracks, you can hear the sound of true inspiration.