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About Thomas Whitfield

Thomas Whitfield was among the most prominent figures in the evolution of contemporary gospel. From the '70s through the early '90s, the Detroit-based pianist, singer, songwriter, producer, and arranger -- with rare exception joined by his choir, the Thomas Whitfield Company, aka the Whitfield Company -- applied contemporary R&B sounds to gospel-rooted material and frequently hit Billboard's spiritual and gospel charts. Whitfield was associated with the Stax label's Gospel Truth subsidiary and placed a song on James Cleveland's God Has Smiled on Me album before he made his full-length debut with Brand New (1978). Supported primarily by Armen Boladian's local Sound of Gospel label, Whitfield steadily released well-regarded studio and live albums, highlighted by the double-live set Hallelujah Anyhow! (1983) and the Grammy-nominated recordings ...And They Sang...A Hymn (1989) and My Faith (1991). Additionally, he was a sought-after collaborator who wrote, produced, and arranged Dove- and Grammy-nominated material for Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Yolanda Adams, and Aretha Franklin. Whitfield died of a heart attack in 1992. Shirley Murdock, Vickie Winans, Edwin Hawkins, Bishop Paul S. Morton, Donald Lawrence, and the Clark Sisters were among the artists who continued to perform "the Maestro"'s enduring compositions. At the ceremony for the 14th annual Stellar Awards in 1999, Whitfield's achievements and impact were acknowledged with the James Cleveland Award. ~ Andy Kellman

Detroit, MI
30 Apr 1954

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