Often dubbed the “Queen of Gospel,” vocalist Albertina Walker who spent six decades inspiring future gospel artists and inspiring legions of fans with songs like “Please Be Patient with Me,” “Lord Keep Me Day By Day” and “Walk Around Heaven” passed away
Fellow gospel artist Yolanda Adams announced on her radio show that Walker, the former lead singer of The Caravans, died Oct. 8 in Chicago after a lengthy hospitalization for emphysema-related complications. She was admitted to a Chicago hospital Aug. 29, also her birthday. According to the Associated Press, the cause of death was respiratory failure.
Walker was born in Chicago and began singing at the West Point Baptist Church. Throughout her teen years she performed with various groups and was influenced by celebrated gospel artist Mahalia Jackson, with whom she later toured.
In 1951 Walker formed The Caravans, which included singers Ora Lee Hopkins, Nellie Grace Daniels and Elyse Yancey. Over the years, The Caravans went on to include notable performers such as Shirley Caesar, Inez Andrews and Dorothy Norwood. In the late ‘60s, Walker launched a career as a solo artist and released her first project, Put a Little Love In Your Heart, in 1975.
The popular singer went on to record over 50 albums and performed for former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton and South African leader Nelson Mandela.
Walker’s musical footprint was seen throughout the gospel industry, and she was awarded a Grammy in 1995 for Best Traditional Gospel Album, three Stellar Awards and three Dove Awards for her contributions.
In early September, erroneous reports of her death surfaced on Twitter and other online venues, creating frenzy among her supporters. Now, celebrities and non-celebrities are taking to the popular site to remember the musical icon.
“Heaven’s choir just got better…Albertina Walker just got called home 2 be with the Lord,” Jamal Bryant, pastor of Baltimore’s Empowerment Temple, wrote. Similarly, singer and pastor Donnie McClurkin encouraged fans to pray for Walker’s family and wrote, “Another gospel icon has gone! Sis Albertina Walker died 2day! Let’s all consider the day we’re in, examine ourselves, LOVE & live holy.”