Albertina Walker

  • Born: August 29, 1929
  • Died: October 8, 2010
  • Location: Chicago, Illinois


Gospel legend Albertina Walker is seen here during a reception before the Gospel Music Hall of Fame Inductions in Franklin, Tenn., Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2001.

'Queen of Gospel' dies at age 81

CARLA K. JOHNSON, The Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) — Albertina Walker's singing once stopped the filming of a movie because so many actors were moved to tears by the "Queen of Gospel." At home in Chicago, she babied her beloved French poodles, wore rhinestone sunglasses and was a fixture at the city's gospel music festival.

The Grammy-winning singer died Friday at age 81 of respiratory failure at RML Specialty Hospital in Chicago, said her granddaughter, Tina Nance. Walker, a protege of Mahalia Jackson, formed her own gospel group, the Caravans, as a young woman. Later, she played the role of mentor to many young singers.

She also was the only grandparent Nance ever knew. In bits and pieces, Nance figured out as a girl that Walker wasn't her biological grandmother, but she never got a straight answer about it from Walker.

"She said to me, 'I am your grandmother. That's all you need to know,'" Nance told The Associated Press on Friday.

Taking young people under her wing started early for Walker. Delores Washington, 72, who joined the Caravans in 1958, said Walker was like a big sister, keeping her and the other younger singers out of trouble when they toured. They sang in churches and stayed in people's homes because segregation kept them out of many hotels, Washington recalled.

"There was name-calling. We'd have to go in through the back door (at restaurants) if we wanted something to eat," Washington said. "It came as a total shock to me. I was born in Illinois. I was not familiar with all this hostility toward black people" elsewhere.

Walker set an example by demanding respect with her demeanor.

"We held our heads up high and kept pushing," Washington said. "We were on a mission: To sing for God."

Agent and friend Sasha Daltonn said Walker stuck with gospel music even though she'd been encouraged to sing R&B during the 1960s and 1970s.

"She was revered in the gospel community because of her commitment to gospel, her distinctive style and her uncompromising faith in God," Daltonn said. "It wasn't about the money. It was about the message."

A foundation Walker started to help young people get formal musical training now gives away $10,000 a year, Nance said.

Nance remembered her grandmother wowing the cast of the Steve Martin movie "Leap of Faith" when she sang a solo for a scene. Nance, an extra in the 1992 movie, said filming stopped because so many of the actors were moved to tears.

"It was like the spirit of the Lord came into that place. They had to take a break because everyone was crying," Nance said. Later, Martin sent Walker a bouquet with a card that read, "You are truly the greatest gospel singer in the world," Nance said. Walker treasured the card because she admired Martin's comedy.

"One of our favorite movies was 'The Jerk,'" Nance said.

Pam Morris, a close friend of Walker's and WVON radio host, called Walker a "legend" who was responsible for launching more than a dozen gospel artists' careers.

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush said in a statement that Walker was a voice for the civil rights movement whose music was "a healing balm to those who struggled for justice."

Walker, a lifelong Chicago resident, was a member of the West Point Baptist Church. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Condolence & Memory Journal


Posted by Alberta Williams - Levittown, PA - No relation-Love her hymns   January 16, 2013


Hello, My name is Claire my family and I live in Houston, Tx and we had the priviledge of singin background for her for the Houston Juneteenth concert Downtown, and she was so sweet and down to earth with us. After the concert was over we wanted to just at least shake her hand but she said come on back to the dressing room and visit with me and before leaving we had prayer with her. She is/was the type of person that both men and women of today can learn from, for a attitude and personality like her will take anyone a long way in life and be an example of what it will take to make it to Heaven. At my age of 42 she is adn will always be one of my favorite people in life. God bless her and memories of love from the Browns in Houston, Tx.

Posted by Claire - Friend   June 02, 2011


What a Beautiful Woman of God. one of the songs i love the most was Please Be Patient with me God is not through with me yet. The other one is Mary Don't You Weep when she was with the Caravans. i purchased the New cd by the Caravans called Paving the way. This woman of God will always be Tha Queen of Gospel in my heart. RIP Sis Walker

Posted by Donna L Hughes - Fan of Gospel Music   March 19, 2011

I am just writing this in regards of the passing of my favorite Gospel Singer of all times ALBERTINA WALKER! Back in the early 60's and was a little girl my mother would have to all the gospel singings in Savannah, Ga. When I would hear Albertina Walker & the Carvans was coming to town I would be so happy. I love her like she knew me and I will miss her from making new songs! The albums my mother would purchase of her are damaged now, thank God for CD and Youtube! Family Be Blessed

Posted by Patricia Cooper - Garden City, GA - Gospel Music Workshop of America   January 23, 2011


anointed singer

Posted by Andy Ward - Fan   November 09, 2010

The true queen of gospel who's enduring name for me and my sister was TEEN-TEEN.When her music is the volume is up.What a time Heaven is having. May you rest in peace. You will truly be missed. The local radio stations(gospel)paid tributes to her the entire week of her death. Her music is also played daily. Thank you Tee-Teen for give me joy in the moring. We will keep going foward and move with the cloud. WE love you in Birmingham,Al

Posted by MARGIE - BIRMINGHAM, AL - A FAN OF THE QUEEN   October 20, 2010


I remember the time we sang with the Gospel Music Worship of America with James Cleveland, Mr. Clean and Donald Vails. she will be miss. We will keep the family in our prayers.

Posted by Kathleen Williams - Friend   October 19, 2010

Albertina walker - one of my favorite gospel singer. i'm going to miss her singing and her also - i was very very very shocked to when i herd she had passed and i'm only 14 yars old . Mayshe be absent from the body and present with the lord. i will miss you Mrs. Albertina Walker.

Posted by Tyreke Green - hempstead, NY - fan   October 18, 2010


Thank God for her! She was one of a kind,and the last of her kind. I will always remember her great singing. She will never be forgotten. See you in glory Albertina and believe me we will sing Halleluah all day!

Posted by linda smith - fan   October 17, 2010

My deepest condolences to the family. Please reflect on Jesus' words at Matthew 20:28 that emphasize how he came to earth to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many. Yes, Jesus paid the ransom price with his life to release mankind from sin and death. As 1 Corinthians 15:26 says, the enemy death will be brought to nothing. At that time, humankind will live as God originally intended. This is a promise from God who cannot lie. May this bring you peace and hope at this terrible time.

Posted by Anne - TX   October 15, 2010


If you prove every word, that is the first step in being noble spiritually. That is how God measures nobility and Albertina had that same attitude. This gave her marvelous hope. which she taught all. Humanly she was totally alone but she never wavered or faltered. She knew that God and millions of angels were with her.
Albertina is going to rise in the resurrection and return to Earth with Christ soon.
"Precious in the sight of the Eternal is the death of his saints." When a saint dies in faith, it is certain that God has another family member soon to be resurrected.

Posted by Betaye Cooper    October 14, 2010


Albertina Walker is STILL the queen of Gospel, the whole country still paying respects to our queen of Gospel. And yes, she's still here in our hearts, as long as we see her in the sky and look at her. Albertina, I love you, and God bless you!

Posted by Shawn Williams - Friend   October 14, 2010


You visited my church on many occasions since I've been a member and my Pastor would always ask you to sing "Joy Will Come." Thanks for all you've done and I can visualize the heavenly choir with you and all the Gospel Greats that's gone on before. Praise God for you and to your family---God Bless You and Sustain You in Your Hour of Bereavement.

Posted by Jean Boughton-Brown - Chicago, IL - Sister in Christ   October 14, 2010

My prayers go out the Walker Family at this time of loss. God has welcomed her into the Heavenly Choir and she is rejoicing at her arrival. Like the song says "When The Gates Swing Open...I'll Walk In" and she did just that last the family I pray for your strength and BE ABUNDANTLY BLESSED...

Posted by Donna J. Riggs - Detroit, MI - Fan   October 14, 2010


As a child until now I have been blessed by the life and music of Sister Walker. My first solo was taking her song, "I Believe/Think About It" from her under my first touch of the holy ghost!! I shared this story with her often while attending GMWA , Stellar Awards and other events!! Thank You Mother for ALL your years of service to THE Master!! Long Live The QUEEN!!!

Posted by Jeffrey Amos, Sr. - Friend   October 14, 2010


Many lives have been touched and changed as a result of this great Gospel Legend. I have listened to her music for the past 40 plus years and was always deeply inspired by it. Her song "Lord Keep Me Day By Day" is a strong motivator to continue the work that God has ordained for me. Truly she shall be missed but never forgotten.

Posted by Rev. Otis G. Byrd - Admirer and Fan   October 14, 2010


I can remember Mrs. Walker mostly with the Caravans. Along with Little Lucy Collier, Roberta Martin and James Cleveland They were all great soldiers and are/ will be greatly missed...

Posted by Derrick Stewart - grateful listener   October 13, 2010

I remember our choir(Friendship baptist church)singing with her in a concert for Bobby Jones Gospel,and she was one of the nicest ladies I have met. she took time out to talk with us and encourage us to sing for the Lord.You will be missed Mrs.Walker,and I will hold to the memory of your pleasant personality.Love Ya!!

Posted by MICHAEL K. HARRIS - CORPUS CHRISTI, TX - FAN   October 12, 2010


This was truly a great woman of God,a Gospel legend and surely will be and already missed.We thank God for her.Family hold your head up,be strong cause we can still go to God in prayer! God bless ya!
Paul & Curley Johnson & Family

Posted by Curley Johnson - Daughter In Christ   October 12, 2010


I thank God for the gift of life of this wonderful woman of God. I will lift her family up in pray to our Creator God. The Watkins Family fort Worth,Texas

Posted by Beverly Watkins    October 11, 2010

Albertina is gone, but her music always remains, now thatz real music that the Caravans used to sing. We are all saddened that the epitome of gospel is gone! Sing and make the angels bow Albertina, we love you here in Georgia!

Posted by Rev. Carlos McCloud - Brunswick, GA - admirer   October 11, 2010

To the family of the great Albertina Walker my prayers are with you but you can rejoice knowing that Tina is now singing with the heavenly choir.

Posted by Carol Murphy - charleston, SC - admirer   October 10, 2010

I attend the Chicago Gospel Festival every year and look forward to her say "Praise the Lord Everybody" I was blessed to meet her with my mentor Dr Willam Charles Sims Such a classy humble Queen Of Gospel. Blessed are they who die in the lord , For they rest from their labor. Rest On our Queen

Posted by Michael Harrison - Cleveland, OH - Devoted Fan   October 10, 2010


:Your voice was amazing!

Posted by JOYCE - enjoyed her singing   October 09, 2010

Family keep your hand in the Masters Hand

Posted by Sandra Wiggins - Waldorf, MD - FAN   October 09, 2010


Posted by ANGELA BAXTER - NASHVILLE, TN - FRIEND   October 09, 2010


I am so sorry for the lose of your love one. I love Albertina Walker. Her music has lifted me up when I felt so all alone. Just to know she care through her music, it was as if she was talking to you. May God smile down apon you and keep you strong. He knows your pain. And he will help see you through. God bless the Family.

Posted by Pamela Howard - A fan   October 09, 2010

My condolences to your family, your love one will be missed.

Posted by JAMES LONG    October 09, 2010


Loved her Music...

Posted by Janie - Fan   October 09, 2010


A soldier has gone home to be with the Lord. Thank you Albertina Walker for your dedicated service in the Army of the Lord. Your legacy and music will live on. Rest now for your work down here is complete.

Posted by Lateefah Butler - fan   October 09, 2010

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Gospel legend Albertina Walker is seen here during a reception before the Gospel Music Hall of Fame Inductions in Franklin, Tenn., Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2001.
Albertina Walker along with hundreds of well wishers react to gospel music on the main floor of Operation PUSH headquarters in Chicago during the funeral of Koko Taylor, Queen of the Blues, Friday, June 12, 2009.