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Via: Chicago Sun Times

Inez Andrews, the last of the great traditional gospel singers, has died.

Inez Andrews

Mrs. Andrews died Wednesday afternoon at her Chicago home from complications of colon cancer. She was 83 years old.

Mrs. Andrews was a member of the Caravans, the most popular gospel group of the 1950s and ’60s. More than 110,000 fans witnessed a 1994 Caravans reunion at the Chicago Gospel Festival in Grant Park. Andrews sang with original members Delores Washington and Shirley Caesar in a salute to Caravans founder Albertina Walker.

The key to the Caravans’ success was the fact that everyone was a soloist. Mrs. Andrews sang with joy and dignity. She was unselfish, giving her contralto to the spirit of a higher power, notably in 1958’s “Mary Don’t You Weep,” one of the most requested Caravans songs.

“The golden age of gospel was from 1945 to 1960,” said New York-based gospel author and record producer Anthony Heilbut, who spoke with Mrs. Andrews a few hours before her death. “Inez was the last one to make a name for herself in that era. Her style was unprecedented. She had this immense range, hitting top notes which most singers hit in falsetto.

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