DeLois Barrett Campbell (March 12, 1926 – August 2, 2011), gospel singer.

DeLois Barrett Campbell was a leading force in gospel music, especially in the Chicago area, where she was renowned for her powerful soprano voice. She grew up in a musical and spiritual home. Her father was a church deacon, while her mom sang in the church choir, led by one of her aunts, who helped train her and her sisters. Her neighbors in Chicago included Thomas A. Dorsey (the “Father of Gospel Music”) and Mahalia Jackson, both of whom served as important mentors to her. During the 1940’s, she joined the famous Roberta Martin Singers and made several recordings as a soloist with the group, which later included such stars as the Rev. James Cleveland and Alex Bradford. She also married Rev. Frank Campbell in 1941 and helped lead worship in their church.

The Barrett Sisters

In the early 1960’s, she reformed the Barrett Sisters trio with her two sisters, Billie Barrett GreenBey and Rodessa Barrett Porter. The group came to prominence in George Nierenberg’s acclaimed 1982 gospel music documentary, Say Amen, Somebody”. This led to appearances on the Tonight Show and Oprah Winfrey, as well as increased interest in Europe.

Over the last several years, Barrett Campbell suffered from severe arthritis and was confined to a wheelchair. She lost her magnificent voice two years ago due to vocal cord polyps. She died at the age of 85 from a pulmonary embolism. She is survived by her two sisters, two daughters, and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A documentary about her life and career with her sisters is currently in production.

“For decades, DeLois performed songs that fed our spirits, brought us hope, and helped carry us forward in times of both despair and triumph. Throughout her life, she remained dedicated to her sisters, her family, and the Chicago community, as well as to the gospel music that served as a source of inspiration for so many. – President Barack Obama

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