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Making a Joyful Noise

Published: 10/27/2011

Jessy Dixon (AP Photo)

Jessy Dixon (AP Photo)

Jessy Dixon, who died Sept. 26 at age 73, famously sang gospel songs with James Cleveland’s Gospel Chimes and Bill Gaither’s Homecoming crew.

Not long before Dixon's death came the death of Delois Campbell of the Barrett Sisters. The Chicago-born gospel singer had a voice that "soared to the church rafters and her joy raised the roof."

Many lesser-known gospel singers, who sang with various groups, also died – or as their families liked to say "went home to be with Jesus" – in recent weeks. Among them are:

Freddie Lee Farmer Sr., 58, a retired carpenter, who sported a Jessy Dixon look, was leader of the Farmer Family Gospel Singers, per his obit in the Shelby (North Carolina) Star.

Jo Carol Moffett, 59, was described as one of Austin's own Gospel superstars in the obit in the Austin American Statesman.

At an early age, she discovered music, and the power it had to draw those who heard her nearer to Christ. Jo Carol was a member of the Jimmy Butler Singers- the first local black Sunday morning program on television (aired on KTBC- now Fox 7).

Annie Maxine McAllister, 69, a day-care teacher, who also started singing about Jesus at an early age, organized the McClendon Sisters gospel group, per the obit in the Longview (Texas) News-Journal.

Additionally, she was a member of the Interdenominational Choir, Longview, Texas, Gospel Music Workshop of America, The Harman Finley Singers, The South Central Music Conference and The Lufkin IDC.

Malcolm Dillard Edwards, 87, retired driver for Continental Trailways, sang with the Adorations Quartet, according to his obituary in the Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tennessee.

Charles Richard "Ricky" Lawrence, 56, was a singer and pianist with the Gospel group, "The Galileans," and drove school buses for Portsmouth Christian School, according to the obit in the Virginian Pilot.

Willie Finister Sr., 74, was a lead singer with The Gospel Melotones, according to the obit his family prepared for The Advocate in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He went on to become the pastor of two Baptist churches.


This post was contributed by Alana Baranick, a freelance obituary writer. She is director of the Society of Professional Obituary Writers and chief author of Life on the Death Beat: A Handbook for Obituary Writers.

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