Rance Allen, legendary gospel musician, dead at age 71

Rance Allen, legendary gospel musician, dead at age 71

Rance Allen

Rance Allen, right, a legendary gospel musician, has died at age 71. Here, Allen performs with Kirk Franklin at the 2008 "Celebration of Gospel" presented by BET Networks in Los Angeles. (AP File Photo/Earl Gibson III) (AP Photo/Earl Gibson III)

Rance Allen , a longtime gospel musician and minister, has died at age 71, according to reports by  Essence The Detroit News The Commercial Appeal  and other media outlets.


Allen’s death was confirmed today in a statement from Bishop Robert G. Rudolph Jr. of the  Church of God in Christ .

“God, who is omnipotent and omniscient, has summoned His Servant, Bishop Rance Lee Allen, to eternal rest,” said the statement, which was published in full by Essence. “Bishop Allen was a world-renowned gospel artist and affectionately known as the ‘Father of Contemporary Gospel Music.’ Bishop Allen’s unique vocal ministry was an indispensable sound within the Church Of God In Christ and Christendom. His gift transcended the boundaries of musical genre as he remained a sought after personality called to perform on global venues.”

The family plans a private memorial service due to the coronavirus pandemic, the statement said. Allen served as pastor at the New Bethel Church of God in Christ in Toledo, Ohio, and later became a bishop there.

Allen, a native of Monroe, Michigan, was a singer with a powerful and expressive voice. He also was a songwriter, guitarist and keyboard player. Allen led the  Rance Allen Group , a family troupe that also featured his brothers, Thomas and Steve Allen. The group, formed in Detroit in 1969, recorded more than 20 albums over five decades for labels that included Stax Records. The Allens fused traditional gospel music with rock and soul, touring and performing with artists that ranged from Andrae Crouch to Shirley Caesar to Kirk Franklin.

Concert tours at churches, festivals, universities and theaters brought the Rance Allen Group to Alabama over the years, and the troupe performed several times in Birmingham.

The Rance Allen Group  won two Stellar Awards  in 2012 and was  nominated for Grammy Awards  in the soul gospel category. The group was inducted into Detroit’s  International Gospel Music Hall of Fame and Museum  in 1998. Allen moved to Toledo, Ohio, in 1989, and continued to record and perform while leading his ministry there.


By  Mary Colurso |


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