He's been called "the Quincy Jones of Gospel," and besides being one of the best-selling instrumentalists in Christian music, keyboard player Ben Tankard has justified his tag, producing many stellar gospel projects as well as serving as an executive vice-president at Tribute Records, for which he has recorded extensively. Born in Florida to a minister father and a missionary mother, he began playing drums in church at the age of three. He later graduated to tuba and was offered several music scholarships to college, though he eventually accepted a basketball scholarship instead.
Tankard endured a rough period of depression and homelessness when a knee injury prevented him from turning professional (though he was drafted by the NBA). A visit to a revival service put him on the right track, an almost overnight, he became a very talented keyboard/organ player. Tankard began his witness in song with 1990's Keynote Speaker, recorded for Tribute Records. He continued recording and soon moved into production and arranging as well, calling on his reserves of early musical training to provide impeccable jobs for Yolanda Adams, the Alabama State Mass Choir and Michael Bruce. His albums were often light jazz works, offering soothing, reflective gospel instrumentals that were similar to mainstream efforts from George Benson and Kenny G. By 2002, he had released enough albums to put together a "best of" collection, highlighted by a cover of Stevie Wonder's "You Will Know" featuring Take 6. ~ John Bush, Rovi
The name Babbie Mason is synonymous with creative excellence in the Christian community. An award-winning singer-songwriter of Christian music, her ministry and career have blessed countless thousands for almost three decades. The daughter of a Baptist pastor, Babbie learned to serve others early in life. Demonstrating exceptional musical skill early in life, she became the church’s full-time pianist and choir director by age nine. She often accompanied her father, the late Rev. George W. Wade, as he preached at home and at churches across the Great Lake States. Those humble beginnings paved the way for a ministry that has taken Babbie Mason across the globe where she has encouraged the hearts of young and old alike in churches, conferences and corporate conventions. Gracing the stage in numerous Billy Graham Crusades worldwide, Women of Faith Conferences, The Grammy Awards and Carnegie Hall, her gifts and talents have allowed her to share the platform with such notable people as Presidents Carter, Ford and Bush, Former First Lady Barbara Bush, Lady Margaret Thatcher, Bill Cosby, NBA legend, Michael Jordan, General Colin Powell, Steve Forbes and Jeff Foxworthy.
An award-winning singer, songwriter, teacher and TV talk show host, Babbie Mason shows no signs of stopping.
Babbie Mason’s heart-felt lyrics and singable melodies have been translated in over twenty languages. She is the recipient of two Dove Awards for her singing and songwriting abilities and a host of other awards and recognitions line her walls; eleven Dove Award nominations, nominations for the Grammy and the Stellar Awards, including nominations for Female Vocalist of the Year and Songwriter of the Year. In 2010 Babbie Mason was recognized for her contributions in Gospel music by being inducted into The Christian Music Hall Of Fame.
Vince Ebo was a former session singer and member of Charlie Peacock's acoustic trio, Ebo cut one solo album for Warners, but cut his career short when he took his own life in late 1993.
Lavine Hudson was born in the early 60's in England and is one 6 children of which some were also gifted with musical talents.Her parents are the Reverend Austin and Elaine Hudson who migrated from the Caribbean like so many others in search of a future..
Hudsons musical roots are in the Pentecostal church (Church of God in Christ denomination) and she began singing and playing musical instruments, piano and guitar at a very early age.
Lavines voice matured into a soprano and carried an emotional edge which was far in advance of her age. Very modest and humble even to this day, she reflects that; 'I couldn't understand why the church congregation would react so crazy with excitement while I sang'.
Her first real professional spell in the music business began in 1978 when she became lead singer for an up and coming contemporary British gospel group called the Harmonisers at the tender age of 16 after being spotted by their leader, keyboardist, Doug Wallace.The Harmonisers soon signed with the Pilgrim record label which lead to an historical appearence at the Greenbelt Christan music festival in 1979 in front of over 10,000 fans, the first British Black gospel group to achieve this.
Throughout the 80's Lavine rubbed shoulders and worked with famous US gospel artists such as the Andrae Crouch, Marvin Winans, Derek Barkley and the Clark Sisters (You bring the sunshine).
In the late 80's she signed with Richard Bransons Virgin records and made the albums Intervention in 1988 and Between 2 Worlds in 1991, also writing and releasing a string of singles.A number of live gigs including a trip to the Montreux jazz festival in 1988 and a BBC TV documentary 'The Friday Report' followed and were to form part of a rapidly blossoming music career.The albums did not achieve the million selling success for which the record executives had hoped for.
The Winans were pioneers in the field of contemporary gospel, updating the sound and style of traditional black gospel vocal groups for the urban contemporary age. While they weren't the first group to do so, they were probably the most important factor in popularizing the style, paving the way for countless urban-style gospel groups to follow -- including numerous other members of their own, confusingly large family tree.
The Winans were composed of brothers Marvin, Carvin, Ronald, and Michael, all of whom were born in Detroit and raised in a strict, loving Christian environment. Their parents later recorded together as Mom & Pop Winans, and their other family spinoff acts included Daniel, Vickie, brother and sister BeBe & CeCe, and Angie & Debbie; plus, their own sons went on to form the third-generation group Winans Phase 2. All of that came later, though. The four brothers, like the rest of their siblings, grew up singing in gospel choirs, and decided to form a professional quartet in their twenties. A mutual friend introduced them to Andraé Crouch, a major force in the contemporization of gospel music, and Crouch signed the Winans to his Light label.
The Winans released their debut album, Introducing the Winans, in 1981, which was produced by Crouch and featured the now-classic cuts "The Question Is" and "Restoration." The 1983 follow-up, Long Time Comin', started to break the group to a wider audience, reaching the Top Ten on the gospel album charts; it also produced another staple of their repertoire in the ballad "Long Time Comin' (Holdin' On)." The title track of their third album, Tomorrow (which also made the gospel Top Ten), won the group its first Grammy for Best Soul Gospel Performance by a Duo or Group in 1985. In the wake of that success, the Winans moved over to famed producer Quincy Jones' Qwest label.
Commissioned was formed in 1982 by Fred Hammond, Michael Brooks, Karl Reid, Keith Stanton, Mitchell Jones and Michael Williams. The lineup changed over the course of the 17 years that Commissioned stayed together. Sapp was one of the people who joined the group in 1991 when Staten and Brooks left. Throughout the lineup changes, one thing remained the same: Commissioned consistently made explicitly Christian music while employing the melodies and production values used by secular R&B, funk and hip-hop in the 1980s and 1990s. In doing so, the group influenced a generation of youth oriented gospel performers that energize the genre today such as Israel, Kirk Franklin and fellow Detroiter J. Moss.
The group recorded twelve albums over a period of seventeen years; their accomplishments included four Grammy awards and six Stellar awards.
Kristle Murden’s voice has been described as just that...like crystal...clear, distinctive, and exquisite. This stellar vocalist soars and spirals through her three-octave range touching the soul with every melodic nuance. Kristle is that magical voice singing the Oscar award winning song Can You Feel the Love Tonight in Disney’s greatest animated film The Lion King. Her voice can also be heard on two made for television movies: Voyage of the Unicorn; and In Search of Dr.Seuss. Raised in Washington, DC, Kristle started singing at the age of five and began playing piano at ten. She began her professional recording career when she sang a duet with the legendary gospel great Andraé Crouch titled I’ll Be Thinking of You from the Grammy Award winning album of the same name. Her first album titled I Can’t Let Go, featuring six of her original songs, was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Soul Gospel Performance, Contemporary. Three years later, she was nominated for a Grammy for Best Soul Gospel Performance, Female for the song Jesus, come lay your head on me ...
Cindy Morgan, born and raised in rural East Tennessee, has blended pop/R&B with gospel over the course of three albums and two CHR number one singles, " Let It Be Love" and It's Gonna Be Heaven."Her debut full-length, Real Life , earned her six Dove award nominations in 1993, including New Artist of the year, Female Vocalist of the year, Contemporary Album of the year, Contemporary recorded song of the year, and Recorded music packaging of the year; she won the New Artist category. Released in 1993, Reason to Live cemented her reputation with a nomination for another Dove award as Female Vocalist of the year. Her third Album, Under the Water, appeared in 1994
John Bush, All Music Guide
Some words from Bob Bailey:
After leaving PTL in January 1981, I moved to Nashville, TN and went to
work as a songwriter for Lorenz Creative Services. Lorenz bought the
masters to my first record, “Looking Forward” from Goodlife and released
it on the Benson Company label. Lorenz also produced my 2nd album, “I’m
Walkin’”, which was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1984 for Best Gospel
Performance, Male. The next several years are kind of cloudy, filled with
lots of drugs, disappointments, anger, rejection, racism, fear, defeat,
and darkness. Then, at Thanksgiving 1989 my dear friend and booking agent
Michael A. McKinney literally drove from Louisville, Kentucky to Nashville
to hand deliver me to a drug treatment facility. I left the center 30 days
later a new person, reconnected to the unconditional love of God, and
ready to get on with what God had called me to do. Since then, I’ve been
enjoying each day, staying sober, and singing. Doors have opened that were
unimaginable to me. Wynonna Judd entered the picture in 1992, and embraced
me with her wonderfully kind and generous spirit. I was blessed to be a
part of her touring and recording experience for 15 years. In addition,
I’ve been traveling back and forth to Denmark, observing the surging
popularity of Gospel Music there, and offering my humble gifts to what God
is already doing there.
While vocal groups surge in popularity, GRAMMY award-winning super group TAKE 6 continues to set the standard for acappella groups of this generation. The TAKE 6 story began at Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama, in 1980, when freshman Claude V. McKnight III formed a quartet known as the Gentlemen's Estate Club. When tenor Mark Kibble heard the group rehearsing in - of all places - a campus restroom, he joined in the harmonies and performed onstage with the group that same night.Mervyn Warren joined shortly after, and the group briefly took the name of Alliance. They performed in local churches and on campus for the next few years, with personnel changing frequently as older members graduated and new voices arrived on campus to replace them.After college, the group signed with the Warner Brothers label in 1987 and changed their name to TAKE 6. Their self-titled debut album, released the following year, scored two GRAMMY Awards and landed in the top ten on Billboard's Contemporary Jazz and Contemporary Christian charts.
To date, TAKE 6 has won 10 GRAMMY Awards, 10 Dove Awards, one Soul Train Award, received two NAACP Image Award nominations, and holds the distinct honor of being the most GRAMMY nominated vocal group in history.