Gospel Legend Albertina Walker. Courtesy Photo
The woman who launched the careers of some of the most heralded gospel legends, the original Gospel Caravans--the late Rev. James Cleveland, Shirley Caesar, Inez Andrews and Dorothy Norwood--Albertina Walker died on Thu, Oct. 8 in Chicago, IL. She was 81.
Heralded as the beloved “Queen of Gospel,” Chicago-born Walker took the advice of her friend Mahalia Jackson and founded the legendary Caravans that evolved into worldwide acclaim in the 1950's. The evergreen "Oh Mary Don't You Weep" became one of their greatest hits.
In early September, this year, rumors of her death were widespread online, but Walker was in fact hospitalized for respiratory distress and later underwent a Tracheotomy surgery that was reportedly successful.
From the ICU at a Chicago hospital, while connected to a ventilator, she assured her fans via Facebook on September 4: "I am still here no matter what you have heard." On September 17, Walker posted a message on www.albertinawalker.com stating: "I praise God for my life, strength and good reports as I rest comfortably at this time. Keep me lifted in prayer as I know God is not through with me yet."