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Illinois

Charles Jenkins’ single ‘Grace’ emerges on gospel music charts

Chicago-based artist Charles Jenkins‘ latest finger-snapper, “Grace” (Inspired People/Empire), boasts an old school Motown sample, the sonorous singing of Fellowship Chicago and a dynamic vocal assist from Le’Andria Johnson. Last week, the inspiring, mid-tempo track debuted in the Top 20 on both the Billboard Magazine Gospel Airplay (No. 19) and the Mediabase Gospel Airplay (No. 18) charts. The song anchors Charles Jenkins & Fellowship Chicago’s highly anticipated and, as yet, untitled third album which is expected to release in either the 4th quarter of 2017 or the first quarter of 2018.

The song hits iTunes and all major digital service providers on July 7. The success of “Grace” comes on the heels of Charles Jenkins opening Bishop T.D. Jakes’ bi-annual MegaFest conference with a rousing performance of the song last week in Dallas, where he taught it to an ecstatic audience of thousands. A few days before, Jenkins headlined WLOU 104.7 FM and 1350 AM’s annual SummerFest concert in Louisville, KY. “He just shut the park down,” says WLOU Program Director, Brodric Purvis in a news release. “It was his first time performing in this market and he really gave Louisville a great concert that they will never forget.”

In another career first, prior to jumping on a plane to head to the aforementioned event in Kentucky, Jenkins commanded the stage at Mamby on the Beach in Chicago. The electronic dance music festival drew 30,000 dance music fans to the city’s lakefront and featured EDM superstars such as MGMT, Flying Lotus, Misterwives and Sir the Baptist. Jenkins and his music crew opened the Saturday festivities with an energetic, rousing noon-day program of his urban-flavored tracks such as “Winning,” “Reach for the Sky” and a club rendition of his signature song, “Awesome,” which spent 24 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Gospel Airplay chart in 2012. The spectacular set has already earned Jenkins an invitation to perform at next year’s event.

Funeral details confirmed for founding member Cleotha Staples in Chicago

Cleotha Staples

Cleotha Staples

Funeral services have been confirmed for Cleotha ‘Cleedi’ Staples (a founding member of the pioneering folk-gospel group, The Staple Singers), who died of complications of Alzheimer’s disease, on Feb. 21, 2013.

“We will keep on,” Mavis Staples says of her sisters’ death in a news release. “Yvonne and I will continue singing to keep our father’s legacy and our sister’s legacy alive.  I just finished my second record with Jeff Tweedy, and it will be dedicated to my dear Cleedi’s memory.”

The viewing takes place at 6 p.m. Thursday Feb. 28 at Leak & Sons Funeral Home, 7838 South Cottage Grove, Chicago. The funeral service takes place at 10 a.m. Friday March 1 at Trinity United Church of Christ, 400 W 95th Street, Chicago. The burial will follow at Oakwood Cemetery. Ms. Staples will be buried in the Staples family plot alongside her father, Roebuck “Pops” Staples; her mother, Oceola Staples; and her sister, Cynthia Staples.

The Staple Singers burst on the national scene in 1956 with the Vee Jay Records hit “If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again.” With Pops’ blues-influenced guitar, Cleotha’s bright high notes, Pervis’ falsetto and Mavis rich contralto, they were on their way to stardom. They became one of the biggest gospel outfits of the era and turned out best-selling gospel classics such as “On My Way to Heaven,” “Will The Circle Be Unbroken,” “Don’t Knock,” “Pray On” and their signature hit, “Uncloudy Day,” generally accepted to be the first gospel record to sell one million copies.

In the ’60s, the group began to record inspirational mainstream music such as “For What It’s Worth” and “Why? (Am I Treated So Bad).”  By 1968, they had moved on to Stax records where they enjoyed a steady run of Top 40 hits like “Heavy Makes You Happy (Sha-Na-Boom Boom Yeah)” and “Touch a Hand, Make a Friend” (1974).  The iconic million-seller “I’ll Take You There” spent a week at No. 1 on the Billboard pop singles chart and four weeks at that spot on the R&B singles chart. The group also earned other million-sellers such as “Respect Yourself” (1971), “If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me)” (1973) and “Let’s Do It Again” (1975). The Staple Singers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999 and they also received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. Cleotha is survived by her siblings Pervis, Yvonne and Mavis; her dedicated caretakers Penny and Sushi; and a loving and wonderful extended family of nieces, nephews and treasured friends.