Recording with influential gospel vocalist Reverend James Cleveland (1932 -- 1991) and organist Billy Preston in the early '60s, the 300-voiced Angelic Choir of Nutley helped transform small-group gospel into a large-chorus medium. Their 1964 album Peace Be Still, which Cleveland claimed started the "traditional black chorus style," remained on the gospel charts for 15 years and sold more than one million copies. Cleveland had already established himself as a major gospel performer when he approached Reverend Lawrence Roberts, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Nutley, NJ, and a producer for the Savoy record label, about singing with Roberts' Angelic Choir of Nutley. Having launched his career in the late '40s with Thomas A. Dorsey's Junior Choir, Cleveland had performed with the Caravans in the '50s and the Meditation Singers in the early '60s. Working with producer Fred Mendelsohn, Cleveland and the Angelic Choir of Nutley released two albums before recording Peace Be Still in September 1963.
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