Albertina Walker (August 29, 1929 – October 8, 2010), gospel singer.

Albertina Walker was one of the greatest gospel singers in the history of the music. She started singing in church at the age of 4. She was discovered and mentored early in her career by Mahalia Jackson, and after Jackson’s death, Walker was proclaimed the reigning “Queen of Gospel.” She formed the popular gospel group, the Caravans, in 1951, which included such formidable future talents as Shirley Caesar, Delores Washington, and the Rev. James Cleveland. Her ability to spot and promote talented young singers through the Caravans led to her being known as the “Star Maker“. She later formed the Sisters of Glory gospel group, which included Thelma Houston, CeCe Peniston, and Phoebe Snow. Walker also co-starred in the 1992 film “Leap of Faith,” alongside Steve Martin and Debra Winger. Although she battled emphysema in her last years, she still continued to be an active performer, even reforming the Caravans in 2006 for a highly acclaimed album.

During her long and distinguished career, Albertina Walker sang for several U.S. Presidents, as well as South African President Nelson Mandela. She won the 1995 Grammy for Best Gospel album (and was nominated for 10 other Grammy awards), in addition to 3 Dove Awards. She has also received special citations from the Grammy Awards (2005), a special commendation from President George W. Bush (2002), and an honorary doctorate from the University of Chicago’s Theological Seminary. She was also an active humanitarian, supporting causes ranging from the United Negro College Fund to the American Cancer Society. She also endowed the “Albertina Walker Scholarship Foundation for the Creative & Performing Arts” to help poor and minority students.

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