Black Music Month: Celebrating Chicago Music Makers

Tony Tidwell

Grammy nominated and Stellar award winning -self-taught keyboardist and song writer Tidwell was born and raised in Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church- Serving many years as one of their musicians. His songwriting began at a young age where he studied his cousin and mentor, gospel legend, Percy Gray jr. under Percy’s guidance Tony received his first opportunities to write for major gospel artists and record labels. One of his biggest songs is “I’ve Got A Testimony”! 

Rodney East 

Is a Self-taught pianist who developed his musical expertise while playing for his father’s church. Rodney attended Northwestern college to become a dentist until Percy Bady offered an opportunity that changed his life…playing for Marvin Sapp’s Album “Grace & Mercy”. Rodney has traveled the world with artists Charlie Wilson, The Isley Brothers, Marvin Sapp, & Yolanda Adams whom he currently serves as Musical Director and has co-wrote/produced a song with Yolanda Adams for a Broadway bound show.

Malcolm Williams 

“the Church boy of Gospel” is the director of Malcolm Williams and Great Faith. Williams began his gospel music career at 6 years old as the director of the First Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church Junior Choir. Williams composed over 300 songs – working with artists including Beverly Crawford, Dorinda Clark-Cole, Angela Spivey, Dottie Peoples and the Gospel Music Workshop of America Mass Choir and more. Malcolm Williams and Great Faith have released six studio albums so far, Stellar Award nominations and many other accolades.

Bishop Larry Roberts – Trinity All Nations Church

Bishop Larry Roberts musical career started at the age of 4 under grandmother Rev. Eloise Bridges. Attending Chicago Bible Institution where his passion for gospel music developed and today known as one of the greatest organist of our era. As a teen, he played for Trinity All Nations Church and became a gifted songwriter and masterful composer. He has worked with artists like Rev. James Cleveland, Albertina Walker, the Caravans and more. Trinity All Nations Choir recorded several albums and traveled worldwide. Mayor Daley proclaimed June 4, 2000 “Dr. Larry E. Roberts Day” in the City of Chicago. Promoted from Minister of Music to be elected Pastor of the Trinity All Nations Church in November 2002. He was installed by Bishop Larry D. Trotter.

Pastor Angela Spivey 

Known as the ‘Princess of Gospel’, hails from the WESTSIDE. At 4 years old Angela Spivey sang in her father’s church and at 5 she directed her first choir! That choir to this day is regarded as one of the best! Mighty Voices of Victory. Pastor Spivey.. businesswoman, radio personality, recording artist and the 2nd pastor in the history of first Corinthian MB Church.

Stellar, Dove and Grammy award-winning producer, singer and songwriter who has given us “Nobody Greater” Discovered by Bishop Larry Trotter and hired as the Minister of Music at Chicago's Sweet Holy Spirit Church. Mitchell has written for Smokie Norful, Vanessa Bell Armstrong and Bishop Paul Morton. He has even written top-selling choir recordings. Vashawn also gives back to his community - starting the Norman Youth and Arts Foundation, sponsoring summer youth Art camps in Chicago and one of the only gospel spokespersons with Big Brothers and Big Sisters Foundation.

Janet Sutton

Choir Master Janet Sutton is the Music Director of The ACME MB church Choir known as Janet Sutton and the Voices of Acme. under Sutton’s leadership- she & The Voices won the Best Church Choir in America national competition shortly after nominations for Stellar and Rhythm of gospel awards. People come from around the world to attend ACME and take in a performance from Janet & The Voices. 

Calvin Bridges

Grammy Nominated and Stellar Award Winner considered one of the most innovative Gospel singers of modern times. He started singing and playing piano in church at age 9. After studying theology, Calvin was ordained an Elder and Minister of the Gospel in 1981, and is currently a member of the Apostolic Faith Church, He writes and sings songs, preaches, and presents Gospel music workshops and concerts all over the world with a huge repertoire of songs, spanning more than 50 years of Gospel music. Bridges breakthrough album “Renew my spirits” put him on the billboard charts in 1988! this songwriter and singer wrote Albertina Walker’s song, “I Can Go to God in Prayer.”.

Montage Pheloan

Grammy Award Nominated Songwriter, Musician, Composer… written songs for gospel legends Edwin and Walter Hawkins, Chicago Mass Choir, Joshua’s Troops and many local Chicago artists.

Richard Gibbs 

began his musical career at age 7, playing the organ for church. Richard followed the footsteps of his musically talented parents, Richard Gibbs, Sr, a vocalist of the award-winning Soul Stirrers and powerhouse vocalist Inez Andrews of the Gospel Caravans. After college Richard earned many accomplishments- playing organ/keys for choirs like, Milton Brunson & The Thompson Community Choir; recording and producing with countless Gospel artists and groups. Including becoming the piano accompanist to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, for over 20 years.

Kim McFarland 

has one of the most sought-after voices in the gospel music industry today. Started singing at three years old. Growing up, she was a member of the various choirs at the Unity Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church. 15, Kim joined the Soul Children of Chicago and during that time she began her professional recording career, recording “We Are One”. During that time, she became a “fill-in” background vocalist for, Vanessa Bell Armstrong. From there Kim was featured on many projects…released two studio albums and is currently traveling with Donald Lawrence as she is featured on many of his projects.

Tim White

Hailing from Chicago’s west side Minister Timothy White is serving as minister of music for several churches, notably New Holy Temple, co-hosting a radio show with Kathy Locket on WGRB Radio Inspiration 1390am, and singing all over the country. White’s debut album “I’m Trusting” and His Single “Grace” received the Rhythm of Gospel Award Song of the Year in July 2012. Currently white is the leader of the 2022 Stellar Award nominated quartet group, Tim White and Refocused.

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