Canton Spirituals to sing at Bread of Life on Father's Day
From Staff Reports
The Canton Spirituals, an award-winning gospel group founded in Mississippi in 1943, will be singing at Bread of Life Ministries on Sunday.
Bread of Life – located at 2675 Highway 34 East – will be holding a Father’s Day Gospel Explosion on Sunday at 5 p.m. Space is limited, and Coretta McDowell of Bread of Life urged people planning to attend to register as soon as possible by calling 678-656-2920 or 678-340-2752.
Founded in Canton, Miss., in 1943, the original Canton Spirituals were Eddie Jackson, Theo Thompson, Roscoe Lucious and founder Harvey Watkins Sr., father of the current leader of the group.
The Canton Spirituals received a Grammy nomination in 1993 for their album, Live in Memphis. They also were 1997 Stellar Award recipients for Best Group/ Duo of The Year and Traditional Group Of The Year. The Stellar Awards stemmed from the group’s Living the Dream: Live In Washington, D.C. album.
The following year, the Canton Spirituals received Quartet of the Year and Artist of the Year trophies in the American Quartet Awards competition.
Harvey Watkins Sr. was a gifted singer and songwriter. He was only 14 years old when the Canton Spirituals began their gospel music ministry.
The current lead singer, Harvey Watkins Jr., has been performing with the group since he was a young child. Watkins attributes his interest in music to his parents
Harvey Watkins Sr. died of cancer in Jackson, Miss. on Nov. 16, 1994 – the last original member of the Canton Spirituals still with the group. In the city of Canton, Watkins’s song-writing skills, music and legacy will remain an important part of the city history.
In July 1994, Harvey Watkins Sr. was honored with a Legend Award at the Mississippi Gospel Music Awards. During the same month, Second Street in Canton, Mississippi, was renamed Harvey Watkins Sr. Street in his honor.
Concurrent Resolution 557, approved in February 1998 by the Mississippi Legislature, recognized the Canton Spirituals for their two Stellar Awards in 1997 – noting they were the only gospel quartet in America and the only Mississippi gospel singers to achieve such honors.
The Canton Spirituals have also received Dove, Soul Train, Urban Network and Gospel Music Workshop of America awards.
The group has had four songs to make Billboard and Black Magazine charts: “I’m Coming Lord,” “Ride This Train,” “Mississippi Po-Boy” and “Heavenly Choir.” Other hit songs include “I Recommend Jesus,” “It’s Gonna Rain,” “Memories,” “Morning Dove” and “He Will Supply.”
Musicians who have joined the Canton Spirituals in recent years include Cornelius DeWayne Watkins, lead guitar; Merlin Lucious, bass guitar; Wallace Strickland, keyboard; Victor Allen Sr., keyboards; and Michael Richardson, drums. The group has performed with such artists as Take 6, Sounds of Blackness, Mom and Pop Winans, Shirley Caesar, the Williams Brothers, Gospel Keynotes, Milton Brunson, Mississippi Mass Choir, Milton Biggham, Mighty Clouds of Joy and the late Frank Williams.
A couple of other area churches have also announced plans for special services on Father’s Day. The Rev. Uland Nalley and the Nalley Family will be at a special Father’s Day service at Zion Hill Baptist Church near Luthersville on Sunday.
Susie M. Lester said the Zion Hill service will start at 11 a.m.
Also at 11, Allen-Lee Memorial United Methodist Church at Lone Oak will celebrate Father’s Day as part of its Excellent Sunday series. Winston Skinner, a pastor who is a member of the church, will preach on “Rubik’s Cube Fatherhood” – in keeping with the church’s summertime “Game On” theme.