In Memoriam: Rance Allen (1948 – 2020)


Rance Allen (November 20, 1948 – October 31, 2020), was an American Bishop, Minister, and gospel musician, and the founder and leader of the famed Rance Allen Group. Known for his extremely wide vocal range and powerful singing voice, Allen became known as the main lead vocalist and the leader of the influential group.

He was the senior pastor of the New Bethel Church Of God In Christ in Toledo, Ohio, since its July 1985 establishment. In November 2011, Rance Allen was elevated to the office of Bishop in the Church of God in Christ, for the Michigan Northwestern Harvest Jurisdiction.

Allen was born in 1948 in Monroe, Michigan to Thomas and Emma Pearl Allen. He had 11 siblings: six sisters and five brothers. Allen founded the Rance Allen Group in Detroit in 1969 joined by his brothers Thomas and Steve.

Allen was married to Ellen Marie Allen (née Groves). The two were married on December 1, 1970. The couple had no children together.

Allen and his group had performed with many gospel musicians throughout the country, including Andrae Crouch, Marvin Winans, Bebe and Cece Winans, the Clark Sisters, Kirk Franklin, Marvin Sapp, Tye Tribbett, Shirley Caesar, Donnie McClurkin, Bernard Jackson Jr. and Mary McLaurine Glover. He also performed for President Barack Obama at a White House Celebration of Gospel Music and was nominated for five Grammy Awards.

Allen’s wife, Ellen Allen, and manager Toby Jackson announced in a joint statement that Allen died early Saturday (Oct. 31) while recovering from a “medical procedure” at Heartland ProMedica in Sylvania, Ohio. Allen was a longtime Toledo, Ohio resident and most recently bishop for Church of God in Christ for the Michigan Northwestern Harvest Jurisdiction.

“I am so sorry to hear of the passing of Gospel Great, Bishop Rance Allen,” singer Gloria Gaynor tweeted. “He will surely enrich the heavenly choir now.”

A native of Monroe, Michigan, Allen was a singer, songwriter and musician who formed his group with his brothers Tom and Steve. Another sibling, Esau, occasionally joined them. A promotion man for Stax Records heard them at a Detroit talent contest and they eventually signed with the label’s Gospel Truth imprint. Allen and his siblings were featured in the 1973 documentary WattStax, performing the funky “Lying On the Truth.”

Like the Winans and others later on, the Allens inverted the formula of soul performers like Ray Charles who used gospel sounds for secular themes. On “Just My Salvation,” the Allen Group reworked The Temptations melancholy love song “Just My Imagination” into an uptempo hymn.

The Allens were inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1998. On his own, Rance Allen was nominated for a Grammy fin 2009 or best gospel performance for “I Understand,” which featured Mariah Carey and BeBe Winans among others.

In 2015, he sang at the White House, with President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama among those in attendance.

Source: Wikipedia and Microsoft News

 

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