Rev. James Cleveland's GMWA Mass Choir

b. 5 December 1931, Chicago, Illinois, USA, d. 9 February 1991, Culver City, California, USA. Cleveland was introduced to gospel music early in his life by his grandmother. His singing was noticed by…
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Artist Biography

b. 5 December 1931, Chicago, Illinois, USA, d. 9 February 1991, Culver City, California, USA. Cleveland was introduced to gospel music early in his life by his grandmother. His singing was noticed by Thomas A. Dorsey who was a great influence on the young singer and wrote a song for him that launched his long career in the gospel world. Cleveland was also influenced and inspired by the piano style of Roberta Martin. He moved to New York where he became Minister Of Music at Faith Temple. He then moved to Philadelphia where he helped form the Gospelaires before moving on to Detroit where he became Minister Of Music for Rev. C.L. Franklin. Following several other moves he relocated once more to Detroit where the famous Voices Of Deliverance were born. Cleveland eventually settled in Los Angeles, California where he founded the Cornerstone Baptist Church.

Cleveland enjoyed a great deal of success at Savoy Records and by the 90s had 51 releases available on the label. He recorded the first live gospel album, 1962’s This Sunday In Person, which was an instant success. Peace Be Still was the first gospel album to sell over 50, 000 copies. He preferred traditional gospel messages and was a major influence and well respected figure in the gospel world as a musician, performer and producer. During his career he won many awards, including five Grammies. The 1991 Grammy for Having Church, recorded with the Southern California Community Choir, was awarded posthumously. He was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Trinity Bible College and was the first gospel artist to be awarded an acknowledgement by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.