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Gospel Music Association to induct Elvis, Keith Green in Hall of Fame

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Elvis Presley and Keith Green are among eight gospel musicians who will be inducted into the Gospel Music Association’s Gospel Music Hall of Fame at a special ceremony and concert Nov. 27 at The Peoples Church in Franklin, Tenn.

The Oak Ridge Boys will host the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Concert featuring a number of well-known Christian musicians.

Among those scheduled to perform are the Oak Ridge Boys, dc Talk, Gary Chapman, Vestal Goodman, Phil Keaggy, Bobby Jones & Nashville Super Choir.

Special appearances will be made by Shirley Caesar, Kurt Kaiser, Ralph Emery and George Beverly Shea.

A special Elvis Presley video presentation including Lisa Marie Presley and members of the Imperials and Jordanaires will also be shown.

The 2001 inductees:

— Elvis Presley may be celebrated as the “King of Rock ‘N’ Roll,” but his true musical love was gospel music as he recorded more than 50 gospel songs throughout his career. Among Presley’s classic renderings were “He Touched Me,” “Without Him,” “How Great Thou Art” and “Peace in the Valley,” which he performed on the “Ed Sullivan Show.” His three Grammy wins were for gospel recordings. Presley’s ties to the gospel music community include four Gospel Music Hall of Fame members — The Jordanaires, The Imperials, The Speers and The Stamps — all backup groups for Presley.

— Kurt Kaiser has more than 200 copyrighted songs to his credit, including “Pass It On.” He joined Word, Inc., in 1959 as director of A&R and later became vice president and director of music. Kaiser has arranged and produced albums for Kathleen Battle, Ernie Ford, Larnelle Harris, Burl Ives, George Beverly Shea, Joni Eareckson Tada, Ethel Waters and many more. In 1992, Kaiser was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from ASCAP. An acclaimed pianist, Kaiser has appeared in concerts with George Beverly Shea for more than 20 years and has recorded 16 instrumental albums, including the Dove Award-winning “Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs.”

— Keith Green was one of the most prolific songwriters and artists in the early days of contemporary Christian music. His songs, including “You Put This Love in My Heart,” “Your Love Broke Through,” “O Lord You’re Beautiful” and “Grace by Which I Stand,” are enduring classics that have been recorded by many of today’s top artists. Green was the founder of Last Days Ministries in Lindale, Texas. He was involved not only in concerts and worship services, but also missionary work around the world. On July 28, 1982, Green and two of his children were killed in a plane crash.

— Larry Norman is arguably the “Father of Jesus Rock,” known for the classics “I Wish We’d All Been Ready,” “Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music” and “Moses.” Norman was a member of the Capitol Records mainstream rock band People, which recorded the ’60s hit “I Love You.” After People broke up, Norman recorded four seminal albums of Christian rock between 1968 and 1976. The editors of CCM Magazine voted Norman’s album “Only Visiting This Planet” the most influential Christian album of the past 20 years. Norman’s music was an unlikely mix of love songs, the gospel message, and wry commentary on American culture.

— Doris Akers is probably best known for composing the songs “Sweet, Sweet Spirit,” “Sweet Jesus” and “I Cannot Fail the Lord,” but her multiple talents included recording artist, music arranger and choir director. Akers founded and directed the Sky Pilot Choir and co-wrote “Lord, Don’t Move the Mountain” with her longtime friend Mahalia Jackson. Akers, who died in 1995, has received many awards including being honored by the Smithsonian Institute, which labeled her songs and records “National Treasures.”

— Albertina Walker formed the world famous Caravans before moving on to phenomenal success as a solo artist, recording her first project “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” in 1975. To date, Walker has recorded more than 60 albums, including hits such as the gold-selling “Please Be Patient With Me,” “I Can Go to God in Prayer” and “Joy Will Come.” She still enjoys an active recording career, often lending her talents to the projects of other artists in addition to her own. Walker earned many awards and honors through her six decades of service to gospel music, including a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Album for “Songs of the Church,” two Stellar Awards and multiple Gospel Music Workshop of America Excellence Awards.

— Wendy Bagwell & the Sunliters began performing together in 1960. Comprised of Bagwell, Jerri Morrison, Jan Buckner and Charlie Beatenbo, the group had numerous hits including “Here Come the Rattlesnakes.” Despite their humble beginnings in rural Georgia, the group evolved into an internationally recognized ensemble whose ministry knew no boundaries of age, race, religion or creed. Much of their success, which encompassed more than three decades and 100 recordings, can be attributed to their unique blend of song and laughter. Bagwell died in 1996.

— The Rambos, comprised of husband and wife Buck and Dottie and daughter Reba, began their illustrious careers in the 1950s, starting out as the Singing Echoes. The Rambos were one of the first trios to break down barriers in Southern Gospel music, which until that time had been dominated by quartets. “We Shall Behold Him,” “He Looked Beyond My Fault” and “Sheltered in the Arms of God” are just three of the group’s many hits. The Rambos recorded more than 60 albums and were known for their family harmonies and Dottie’s rich songwriting talents. Whitney Houston recorded Dottie’s “I Go to the Rock” for the “Preacher’s Wife” soundtrack. “I Go to the Rock” won the 1998 Dove Award for Traditional Gospel Recorded Song and Houston presented Dottie with her honor at the 1998 awards show.

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  • Todd Starnes