James Cleveland Biography, Albums, Peace Be Still and Songs

James Cleveland was a gospel singer, musician, and composer. He was born in Chicago, Illinois on December 5, 1931 to Rosie Lee and Benjamin Cleveland during the height of the greatest depression.

Last Updated on 3 years by Editor

James Cleveland Biography

James Cleveland was an American gospel singer, musician, and composer. Also known as the King of Gospel music, Cleveland was a driving force behind the creation of the modern gospel sound by incorporating traditional black gospel, soul, pop, and jazz in arrangements for mass choirs.

Rev. James Cleveland, was a pioneering composer and choral director whose progressive arrangements jazzy and soulful, complete with odd time signatures that helped to push the music past the confines of the traditional Baptist hymnal into new and unexpected directions, having adding elements of the sanctified church style and secular pop to alter the face of gospel forever

Cleveland was singing soprano at Pilgrim Baptist Church. His family was unable to afford a piano, he decided to craft a makeshift keyboard out of windowsill. James learned to play without producing any note. He was focused on becoming the top-notch accompanist.

Cleveland singed to the pianist and occasional third lead with the Gospel ministry in 1950. although the ministry was short-lived, Cleveland cane to meet pianist Roberta Martin, for whom he began composing.

james cleveland

In mid-50s clever land had joined the Caravans, he played piano at the Caravan and as well narrating the hymns. The group was very successful that made him get too high ranked getting apparition as a highly temperamental character.

Cleveland in 1959 played for groups including the Meditation Singers and the Gospel All-Stars also cut a rendition of Ray Charles’ “Hallelujah I Love Her So,” his first overt attempt to bridge gospel and R&B.


Cleveland kept shifting from group to group, his reputation continued to grow with the Gospel Chimes, he cut a series of records which veered sharply from pop-inflected ballads to fiery shouters, By 1960, Cleveland was clearly well ahead of the pack. “The Love of God,” a cover of a Soul Stirrers number he cut with the Detroit choir the Voices of Tabernacle, it was his breakthrough hit, his fusion of pop balladry and choir spirit finally reaching its apotheosis.

Cleveland became a star after along timer of hardship, and across the country, choir directors began mimicking his style; Cleveland then signed to Savoy and he recorded with the All-Stars and Chimes as well as his own group, the Cleveland Singers, which featured on organ a young Billy Preston. His third Savoy LP, in 1962’s live Peace Be Still, made history, selling an astonishing 800,000 copies to an almost exclusively black audience without the benefit of mainstream promotion.

The success of Peace Be Still established Cleveland as arguably the most crucial figure to emerge in gospel since Mahalia Jackson; throughout the ’60s, when hit status for spiritual records typically reflected sales of five thousand copies, his LPs regularly sold five times that amount.

Additionally, his annual Gospel Singers Workshop Convention — an outgrowth of his organization the Gospel Workshop of America — helped launch the careers of numerous younger talents, a generation of artists largely inspired by the modernized sound pioneered by Cleveland himself.

During the ’70s, he remained a towering figure, leading his latest creation, the Southern California Community Choir, and recording prolifically; although his pace began to slow in the decade that followed — and despite his death on February 9, 1991 — Cleveland’s shadow continues to loom large across the gospel landscape.

James Cleveland Age

James Cleveland was born on December 5, 1932.

Official Website


James Cleveland Albums

Some of the Cleveland albums are as highlighted below.

  • I Stood on the Banks of the Jordan
  • James Cleveland & The Troubadours
  • Lord, Let Me Be an Instrument
  • Merry Christmas
  • Trust in God
  • a New Day
  • Live at Carnegie Hall
  • I Walk With God
  • Where Is Your Faith
  • Having Church
  • He Leadeth Me

Live Album Showing all

  • Please Be Patient With Me
  • Albertina Walker With James Cleveland
  • Reverend James Cleveland and The L.A. Gospel Messengers
  • James Cleveland With the Angelic Choir, Vol. 7

Compilation Showing all (5)

The Very Best of James Cleveland

  • Sings with the World’s Greatest Choirs
  • Hallelujah: A Collection of His Finest Recordings
  • King & Queen of Gospel
  • Hirley Caesar & Reverend James Cleveland
  • Harvest Gospel

V/A Compilation Showing 10 of 11 show all

  • The Great Golden Gospel Hits, Vol.
  • Save the Children [motion picture soundtrack]
  • Golden Gospel Jubilee
  • Jubilation! Great Gospel Performances – Volume 1: Black Gospel
  • Jubilation! Great Gospel Performances – Volume 2: More Black Gospel
  • The Great Gospel Men
  • The Best of Gospels and Spirituals
  • Gospel’s Shining Stars
  • Gospel Music
  • Nuggets of the Golden Age of Gospel
  • Show all 11 V/A Compilations
  • Peace Be Still

Single Showing all

Some of the single of James Cleveland.

  • I Need Jesus on My Journey / Love of God
  • Peace Be Still / The Lord Brought Us Out
  • James Cleveland Songs
  • God Is
  • A Quiet Place
  • Don’t Let Him Catch You With Your Work Undone
  • Soldiers Of The Cross
  • Oh Lord I Trust in You
  • Mary Don’t You Weep
  • If You Just Hold Out
  • The Only Hope We Have
  • Trust in God
  • I’ll Let Nothing Stop Me
  • Introduction To What Shall I Do
  • He Shall Feed His Flock
  • Prepare to Meet Him
  • Somebody’s Gone on Home
  • To Whom Shall I Turn
  • There’s Nothing Else on My Mind
  • The Life Boat is Coming
  • I’m Saved
  • Introduction To God Is Taking Us Away
  • When Jesus Speaks to Me
  • Introduction To I’m Saved
  • I Will Be Done Soon
  • Introduction To We Give You The Praise
  • Song of Praises
  • Please Make Me Better
  • Soon It Will Be Done

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