Famous Gospel Music Artists You Need to Know

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Here are some of the most popular and well-known gospel music artists that you should familiarize yourself with. From Kirk Franklin to Tamela Mann, these artists have made a name for themselves in the gospel music industry.

Kirk Franklin

Kirk Franklin is one of the most successful and well-known gospel music artists of our time. He has won numerous awards, including Grammy Awards, and has sold millions of records. He is also a successful businessman, philanthropist, and author. Kirk Franklin is a highly influential figure in the world of gospel music, and you need to know about him.

His story

Kirk Franklin was born in 1970 in Fort Worth, Texas. He was raised by his aunt, Gennie, after his mother abandoned him and his father was sent to prison. Franklin began singing in the church choir at an early age and by his teens had begun leading his own gospel group. In 1992, he released his first album with the group Kirk Franklin & the Family, which became a smash hit within the gospel community.

Franklin has since gone on to release 13 more albums and has won numerous awards, including nine Grammy Awards. He is widely considered one of the most successful gospel artists of all time and has helped to bring gospel music to a wider audience.

His music

Kirk Franklin began his musical career with the release of his album Kirk Franklin & The Family in 1993. The album was a critical and commercial success, earning him a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Gospel Album. Kirk Franklin & The Family is noteworthy for its mix of traditional gospel sounds with contemporary R&B and rap music.

Kirk Franklin’s subsequent albums have all been commercially successful, and he has won multiple Grammy Awards. He has also been nominated for several NAACP Image Awards. In addition to his work as a solo artist, Kirk Franklin has also collaborated with other artists, including Bono, Michael W. Smith, and Crystal Lewis.

Kirk Franklin is one of the most successful gospel music artists of all time. He has sold millions of albums and has won numerous awards, including Grammys and NAACP Image Awards. Kirk Franklin is credited with bringing gospel music to a wider audience through his use of contemporary sounds and styles.

Yolanda Adams

Contemporary gospel music would not be the same without the influence of Yolanda Adams. Adams was born in Houston, Texas in 1961 and started singing gospel music as a child. As an adult, her career took off and she released her debut album in 1999. Adams has won numerous awards for her music, including a Grammy and several Dove Awards. If you’re a fan of gospel music, then you need to know about Yolanda Adams.

Her story

Yolanda Yvette Adams (born August 27, 1961) is an American gospel singer, record producer, actress, and radio host of her own nationally syndicated morning gospel show. As of September 2009, she had sold 4.5 million albums since 1991 in the United States, and nearly 8 million albums worldwide according to SoundScan. On December 11, 2009, Billboard Magazine named her the No. 1 Gospel Artist of the last decade. In the same chart, her album Mountain High…Valley Low was acknowledged as the best gospel album. The youngest of six siblings, Adams was born in Houston Texas. She graduated from Sterling High School in Houston in 1979. After graduating from Texas Southern University in Houston with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications in 1986, she worked for a short time at KULF 1360 AM as a newscast anchor before beginning a career as a professional singer.

Her music

Yolanda Adams is an American gospel singer, record producer, radio host, actress, and former model. As of September 2009, Adams has sold 4.5 million albums since 1991 in the United States, according to SoundScan. On December 11, 2009, Billboard magazine named her the fourth best-selling gospel artist of the last decade. In 2008, she was ranked #37 on Billboard’s “Top Social Artist” list. As of May 2012, Adams is the host of Yolanda’s Take 2 on Magic 106.3 in Houston and Inspiration 1390 in Chicago. Her 13th album Become became her fifth consecutive album to debut at No 1 on Billboard Top Gospel Albums chart making her the only artist in history to achieve this mark

Born in Houston, Texas, Adams graduated from Sterling High School in Rivera Beach, Florida. After graduating from high school she attended Bennett College in Greensboro North Carolina and then transferred to Texas Southern University where she majored in Mass Communications. Later she earned a degree from University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

Adams’ first musical interest was dancing; however, she gave it up after suffering a leg injury when she was fourteen years old. A few years later when her mother heard Andrea Bocelli sing “Con te partirò”, Yolanda began singing hymns at church. Inspired by soul divas such as Anita Baker and Patti LaBelle as well as reading about religious figures such as Sister Stanislaus Katie Wiley and Mother Henriette Delille (both who would eventually be canonized by Pope Benedict XVI), Adams embarked on a spiritual quest that culminated in accepting Christ into her life.[non-primary source needed]

Adams singing career began with background vocals for Earth Wind & Fire and Vanessa Bell Armstrong

Donnie McClurkin

Though he was born Donald Andrew McClurkin Jr., gospel music fans know him simply as Donnie McClurkin. McClurkin was born in 1959 in Amityville, New York, and he was the youngest of three children. His father, Donald Sr., was a minister, and his mother, Frances, was a gospel singer. McClurkin’s love for music began in his church’s choir, where he first began singing and playing the piano.

His story

Donnie McClurkin was born in Amityville, New York on January 9th, 1959. He is the second youngest of eleven children and was raised by his devoutly religious aunt, Vera Gamble. Vera instilled in Donnie a love for gospel music and he began singing in church at the age of six.

Donnie continued to develop his musical talents and by the age of sixteen, he was leading his own gospel group, The Brooklyn All Stars. In 1977, he relocated to Kentucky to attend Louisville Bible College (now Simmons College of Kentucky) on a music scholarship. After graduating from college, McClurkin returned to New York City where he became the minister of music at Brooklyn’s Brooklyn Tabernacle Church.

McClurkin’s big break came in 1996 when he was asked to sing at the Chevy Gospel Music Celebration at Madison Square Garden. His performance was so well-received that he was asked to join the lineup of Mahalia Jackson’s tribute concert later that year. McClurkin’s career took off after that and he has gone on to release nine albums, win three Grammy Awards, and receive numerous Dove Awards.

His music

McClurkin released his first album, Donnie McClurkin, in 1996. The album went double platinum. He won two Grammy Awards for his work on the album, for Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album and Best Male Gospel Vocal Performance for the song “Stand.” McClurkin’s second album, Live in London and More, was released in 1997 and won him another Grammy Award for Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album.

In 2000, McClurkin released Psalms, Hymns & Spiritual Songs. The album featured the hit single “We Fall Down,” which won a Dove Award and a Soul Train Music Award. McClurkin followed up with The Journey (2004), We All Are One: Live in Detroit (2005) and Period of Transition (2007). In 2010, he released Don McClurkin… Again.

Marvin Sapp

Marvin Sapp is a world-renowned Gospel music artist with a career that has spanned over two decades. He has released twelve albums, including his most recent, Close, in 2019. sap has had numerous hit singles, including “Never Would Have Made It,” “The Best in Me,” and “My Testimony.”

His story

Marvin Sapp is a famous gospel singer who has had a long and successful career in the music industry. He was born in Michigan in the United States, and he started singing when he was just a young boy. He sang in his church choir, and he quickly developed a love for gospel music. As he got older, he started writing his own songs and performing them in front of live audiences. He soon became one of the most popular gospel singers in the country, and he has released numerous albums that have sold millions of copies worldwide. Marvin Sapp is a true inspiration to many people, and his music has brought joy to countless fans around the world.

His music

Marvin Sapp is a gospel music singer, songwriter, and record producer. He started out as a member of the gospel group Commissioned. Sapp is known for his hit song “Never Would Have Made It,” which spent 67 weeks on Billboard’s Hot Gospel Songs chart, peaking at number one. He has released 11 studio albums, includingThere I Go Again (2007), which won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album.

James Cleveland

James Cleveland was an American gospel singer, songwriter, and musician who was a pioneer in the development of gospel music. He was born in Chicago, Illinois, on December 5, 1931, and died on February 9, 1991, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cleveland is considered to be one of the most important figures in the history of gospel music and was a major influence on other gospel artists such as Mahalia Jackson and Milton Brunson.

His story

James Cleveland was born in Chicago, Illinois on December 5, 1931. The fifth of twelve children, he was nicknamed “J. C.” or “Jesse” by his family. His father died when he was young, and his mother moved the family to Ohio when he was eleven. It was there that he began singing in the church choir.

Cleveland went on to study music at the local high school and at theNew England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. After graduation, he became a music teacher in the Cleveland public schools and also directed the choir at the city’s Bethel Baptist Church.

In 1956, Cleveland organized a group of gospel singers called the Gospel Music Workshop of America (now known as the GMWA). The GMWA is a national organization that promotes gospel music and its performers. Under Cleveland’s leadership, the GMWA became one of the most successful gospel groups in the country.

Cleveland continued to direct choirs and perform as a solo artist throughout his career. He recorded more than fifty albums and won numerous awards, including five Grammy Awards. He was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1991.

James Cleveland died of cancer on February 9, 1991, at the age of 59.

His music

James Cleveland was an American gospel singer, songwriter, and musician who is credited with helping to shape the sound of modern gospel. He was born in Chicago, Illinois, on December 5, 1931. Cleveland began his musical career as a member of the Gospel Choir at the Olivet Baptist Church in Chicago. He later formed his own group, the James Cleveland Singers, and recorded several albums with them. In addition to his work as a performer, Cleveland also wrote many of the songs that have become gospel standards, such as “Peace Be Still” and “I Don’t Feel No Ways Tired.” He also served as a mentor to other artists in the genre, including Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin. Cleveland died on February 9, 1991, at the age of 59.

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