September 29, 2016

In His Safety: Gospel Singer Lecresia Campbell Has Died


Back in the 1990’s, I was a teenager in high school with aspirations of working in the entertainment industry. At that time, I was cutting my teeth in gospel music and volunteering for a Washington, DC area production company called HawKings Productions. I helped them organize the Youth & Young Adult portion of their annual conference and through this opportunity, I met the incomparable Lecresia Campbell.

Lecresia was in a lane of her own, a sought-after psalmist best known at the time for her song “Perfect Praise (How Excellent),” which was recorded with Walt Whitman & The Soul Children of Chicago. She mixed traditional gospel with her classical training, something we’d later coin “gospera.” But Lecresia was a powerhouse; a show-stopping singer that knew how to invoke the presence of God.

A photo I took of Lecresia Campbell in the late 1990's during our first dinner at IHOP in Alexandria, VA.

A photo I took of Lecresia Campbell in the 1990’s during our first dinner at IHOP in Alexandria, VA.

During that weekend for the HawKings Productions, I picked Lecresia up from the airport and we spent most of those four days together. We became fast friends, as I realized despite her professional accomplishments she was a down-to-earth woman with lots of personality. By the time she left DC that weekend, she was my friend—literally, my first friend in the gospel music industry.

Over the years, Lecresia and I remained friends. She regularly celebrated my growth and triumphs in this business; and encouraged and supported her ability to remain a constant in a business that’s ever-changing. In recent years, we like most people, would text more than we spoke. Lecresia was a huge fan of daytime TV and loved to rant and vent about the changes at “The View” in particular, so she would text me at least three times a week with comments about the show. At least twice a year we would get on the phone for what we would call a marathon catch-up call and it would always be a good time.

Lecresia Campbell & Jawn Murray after the Mississippi Mass Choir recording in 2013

Lecresia Campbell & Jawn Murray after the Mississippi Mass Choir recording in 2013

My heart broke when I learned back in August that Lecresia had suffered a stroke at the young age of 53. Then, I was amazed by her recovery in the weeks following and over Labor Day weekend, I was able to visit her at the hospital in Atlanta. I walked into the room and said, “I heard there’s a healed woman here.” Her face lit up and she replied: “I am she!” We sat for about an hour and laughed and talked—of course “The View” and “The Real” were her first orders of business—and just celebrated her miraculous progress.

After that visit Lecresia asked me to run a story updating people on her progress. Read that here: Lecresia Campbell: Gospel Star’s “Miracle” Recovery After Stroke

Lecresia Campbell's last solo CD, "Even Me" released in 1999.

Lecresia Campbell’s last solo CD, “Even Me” released in 1999.

In preparation for the surgery she was going to have to replace a part of her skull that was removed when she originally was hospitalized, I had Sherri Shepherd send Lecresia several wigs because her head would be shaved.

Lecresia was set to be released on Friday, September 30. But on Thursday Sept. 29, I learned that a pulmonary embolism today caused her to make her transition.

Lecresia believed in Jesus and I know heaven will be her final resting place. I celebrate the life of a vivacious, charismatic woman who embraced me when I was just a nobody trying to make something of myself. Gone, but never forgotten, my friend forever, Lecresia Campbell!

Lecresia Campbell

Lecresia Campbell

VIDEO: Watch Lecresia Campbell perform “Perfect Praise (How Excellent)” with Walt Whitman & The Soul Children of Chicago.


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