Gospel music pioneer Ann Yancy passes

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Ann Yancy

One of the music world’s most beloved gospel music pioneers, Ann Yancy passed away on March 12, 2018 at the age of 88. Affectionately known as “Mama Ann,” Yancy was a major and integral part of the rich history of Chicago’s gospel music history, legacy and community.

Ann Yancy was one of the lead soloists at Greater Harvest Missionary Baptist Church, and a member of the renowned Sylvia Boddie Gospel Singers. Yancy traveled throughout the United States with R. L. Knowles, The Robert Anderson Singers, Willie Webb, and the Roberta Martin Singers while frequently appearing on programs with Albertina Walker, The Barrett Sisters, Shirley Caesar, and the legendary Mahalia Jackson. She has appeared on recordings with the Robert Anderson Singers, the Roberta Martin Singers and The Yancy Family.

Ann Yancy was born on October 28, 1930 in Memphis, Tennessee and was the fourth of seven children born to Leah Edmonds Brown and Elijah Rhodes of Lucy, Tennessee. She was the product of a deeply religious family, which included uncles, the Reverends Morris and Henry Edmonds, her brother Reverend Samuel Jordon and her cousin Reverend Daniel Edmonds.

Ann Yancy’s vocal talents were recognized at the age of eight while she was singing in the junior choir at Pearly Gates Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee where she later became a member of the Sunshine Band. Yancy graduated from Manasses Elementary School in Memphis, Tennessee, and the family moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1942 where she lived until 1943, when she moved to Gary, Indiana with her aunt Lassie Edmonds Blair. Yancy attended Frederich Froebel High School and returned to Chicago in 1945.

In 1948, Ann married Reverend Robert Yancy, Associate Pastor of Greater Harvest Missionary Baptist Church; she was widowed in 1973. She and her husband had eight children (three became ministers): Reverends Kevin and Darryl, the late Reverend Marvin J. Yancy (the Grammy award-winning producer, writer and former husband of Natalie Cole), Derrick, Stevie, Sherwin and Judith Yancy. Reverend Kevin Yancy was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1980 for producing the Gospel album Reverend Marvin J. Yancy and The Fountain of Life Joy Choir. Reverends Marvin and Kevin Yancy were the writers and producers of the Grammy Award nominated gospel recording Heavy Load in 1985.

A retired social worker, Anne Yancy founded the Marvin Yancy Scholarship Foundation, which provided scholarships to deserving music students. She frequently spoke at Gospel conferences and seminars on the history of Gospel music.

Services are pending.

 

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