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   O'Landa Draper 
Renal FailureJuly 21, 1998
Age 34 
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OBITUARY 
      Gospel's O'Landa Draper Dies At 34 
       
                              Gospel singer O'Landa Draper died early 
                              yesterday at Meharry General Hospital in 
                              Nashville following a brief episode of renal 
                              failure. He was 34. 

                              Draper began singing while in junior high 
                              school in Memphis. At 22, he founded his 
                              choir the Associates, which went on to 
                              perform with Shirley Caesar, the Winans, and 
                              other gospel stars. The group was signed to Word Records for 
                              several years, then went to Warner Alliance in 1994. Its first 
                              Warner album, "Gotta Feelin'," debuted at No. 2 on the Top 
                              Gospel Albums chart in April 1996; the Warner set 
                              "Reflections," released in April, reached No. 10. Draper, a 
                              five-time Grammy nominee, was engaged to be married in 
                              September. 

                              A memorial service is being scheduled in Memphis. 

           
           
Billboard

 
Gospel singer O'Landa Draper dies 
 
                            Gospel singer O'Landa Draper died Tuesday at 
                            Nashville's Meharry Medical Center from renal 
                            (kidney) failure. The Warner Alliance recording 
                            artist had received five Grammy nominations, all 
                            for Album of the Year and had received Gospel 
                            music awards the Stellar and Doves. 

                            Draper performed his music with many top 
                            artists, in 1994 he performed with Billy Joel at 
                            the Grammy Awards.  He's also performed 
                            with Jennifer Holiday, gospel music legend 
                            Shirley Caesar, Carman and country artists 
                            Russ Taft. 

                            In 1994 his debut album, Gotta' Feelin debuted 
                            in the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Gospel 
                            Charts.  His latest album, which was just 
                            released in April, Reflections is also 
                            experiencing great success. 

                            The memorial services for  O'Landa Draper, 
                            will be held on Friday, July 24, at Central 
                            Baptist Church, 6655 Winchester Road, 
                            Memphis, Tenn. (at the corner of Winchester 
                            and Kirby). 

                            In lieu of flowers, send all contributions to: 
                            O'Landa Draper Memorial Scholarship Fund, 
                            c/o Ron Stewart/O'Landa Draper Ministries, 
                            P.O. Box 78762, Nashville, Tenn. 37207. 
           
           

The Enews
 
CCM Magazine
 
    O'Landa Draper Dies at 34 

         Warner Gospel artist O'Landa Draper -- one of gospel music's most innovative 
         choir directors and prolific writers and arrangers -- died last Tuesday [July 21] at 7 
         a.m. in Nashville, Tennessee. He was 34.  

         Draper, who had come to Nashville to perform at the annual Bobby Jones 
         Explosion July 10 - 11, died of a short-term illness of kidney failure at Metro 
         Nashville General Hospital -- two days after he was admitted on Sunday.  

         Draper had no history of kidney problems, his manager, Ron Stewart, told the 
         Associated Press. He had been feeling tired for the past 10 days but attributed it to 
         overwork, Stewart said.  

         Draper, who lived in Memphis, Tenn., was known for his energetic and talented 
         choir directing as head of the 60-voice choir, The Associates. Gospel artist Ronald 
         Winans described him as "unique, energetic and vibrant. If you were sad when you 
         went to a performance, you definitely left with a smile on your face." Draper's 
         cousin and gospel artist Ann McCrary, said he was "on the cutting edge of 
         contemporary gospel music."  

         Formerly with Word Records, the group signed with Warner Alliance in 1994. 
         Their second Warner CD, Reflections, released in April '98, and garnered the No. 
         10 slot on the "Gospel" sales chart. The group's debut album on Warner, Gotta' 
         Feelin', debuted at No. 1 on the chart.  

         Draper -- a five-time Grammy nominee plus a Dove Award and Stellar Award 
         recipient -- was well-known by his colleagues for his musical passion. He had 
         worked with numerous artists, including Billy Joel on the hit single and video, "River 
         of Time." Said labelmate Beverly Crawford: "O'Landa was like a brother to me. I 
         loved working with him. He was dear to my heart. There will never be another 
         musical director like O'Landa Draper."  

         Warner Gospel Vice President Demetrus Alexander echoed Crawford: "... He was 
         very passionate about his ministry," she told The CCM Update. "... He will be 
         sorely missed."  

         Draper was finalizing plans to establish a conservatory of music in Memphis, the 
         city where his musical career began. At 13, he joined a glee club and began writing 
         and singing gospel music. At Memphis' Overton High School, he headed his first 
         gospel choir, then went on to Memphis State University to direct the school's choir. 
         At 22, he founded The Associates.  

         Draper is survived by his mother, Marie Draper; sister, Teresa A. Draper; nephew 
         Kenon Walker; and fiancé Patrina Smith (Draper was to be married in September). 

         Memorial services, including a musical tribute, were scheduled for Friday, July 24, 
         at Central Baptist Church in Memphis. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be sent 
         to: O'Landa Draper Memorial Scholarship Fund, c/o Ron Stewart/ O'Landa 
         Draper Ministries, P.O. Box 78762, Nashville, TN 37207. 

 
 

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BIOGRAPHY
         
        O'Landa Draper & The Associates
        from imusic 
         

                         I love Gospel music!!! It's the best music there 
                         is. It's the only music that speaks to your every 
                         need. -- O'Landa Draper  

                         O'Landa Draper takes seriously the admonition 
                         to "...love God with all your heart, might, mind and strength." Anyone 
                         who has seen him live knows that this man expresses praise in a way 
                         that is utterly unique. He blends physical expression with a Holy 
                         obsession, weaving his own special variety of choir choreography and 
                         heavenly hip-hop, and proclaims his faith with energy and intensity. "I 
                         feel like the entire body is a temple of God and it all should be used as a 
                         vehicle of praise," declares O'Landa. And you can take this man at his 
                         word!  

                         Not confined by convention or custom, O'Landa Draper & The 
                         Associates' absolute joy is communicated on every one of 11 tracks on 
                         their new Warner Alliance release, Gotta' Feelin', recorded live in 
                         Chicago. Although one may be missing the visual portion of the 
                         program right now (A video will be released this Summer), the listener 
                         is assured that Mr. O'Landa Draper and his choir are on the move, 
                         emanating style, passion, power and personal commitment to God and 
                         Gospel music.  

                         It is this message of redemption, salvation and O'Landa's indisputable 
                         ability to move his audience, choir members and himself that has 
                         brought him four Grammy nominations (all for Album Of The Year For A 
                         Choir or Chorus), as well as Stellar and Dove Awards (one each). He 
                         shared the stage with Billy Joel at the '94 Grammy Awards and has 
                         performed with Patti Austin and The San Francisco Symphony. He has 
                         recorded with Jennifer Holiday, Shirley Caesar, Yolanda Adams, 
                         Albertina Walker, Carman and Russ Taff.  

                         O'Landa Draper's love affair with God's music began with his mother 
                         who was a Gospel promoter and also a recording artist. As a child he 
                         lived in Tennessee, Alabama and Washington D.C., before moving to 
                         Memphis when he was about 13. He joined a glee club around that time 
                         and his musical course was set. He started writing and singing Gospel 
                         continuously, much to the concern of his family, who weren't altogether 
                         "sure" he had what it takes. But in spite of mixed support, O'Landa 
                         persevered. He recalls, "I just knew there was something there. I was 
                         so mesmerized by the effects of Gospel on me. I would sit in my room 
                         and shed tears, feeling the import of what the words were saying and 
                         the life that they could bring." Pausing, he adds, "I always felt I had 
                         something to say!"  

                         Continuing his musical studies at Overton High School in Memphis 
                         under the award-winning choir director Lula Hedgeman, he headed his 
                         first Gospel choir. O'Landa then went on to Memphis State, where he 
                         directed the school's Gospel choir. After school, he went to work for 
                         Federal Express part-time and ultimately founded The Associates when 
                         he was 22. The group that began with 12 singers now boasts 60 
                         members.  

                         Not content to merely make music, O'Landa & The Associates' faith 
                         extends to those around them. O'Landa has plans to develop 
                         community-based businesses to help give youth a sense of purpose 
                         and self-worth and also wishes to establish a conservatory of music in 
                         Memphis. He travels the nation and the world conducting music 
                         workshops, hoping to nurture and support others in their pursuit of 
                         Gospel excellence. He and the Associates feed the homeless and 
                         encourage young people to take a stand against drugs. They work with 
                         those who are depressed, have AIDS or are dealing with teen 
                         pregnancy. "Many of us have been in the valley, members of the group 
                         have had drug problems...we know what it is to have struggles and 
                         failures, yet our faith keeps us all going," declares O'Landa  

                         That view is fully evident on Gotta Feelin'. O'Landa says, "This album 
                         was one of the most exciting projects that we've done. This time I was 
                         able to say more of what I really feel personally and the choir was able 
                         to express more through the music. We compiled the songs ourselves. 
                         I write the material, but we birth it together. It's completely a team 
                         effort."  

                         That sense of community is an intangible that is nevertheless present 
                         in the emotionally riveting, spiritually uplifting songs of Gotta Feelin'. "In 
                         this project, we try to present to the younger people the hopeful side of 
                         things. You can make it, in spite of what's happening around you or in 
                         your neighborhood. What we're singing is truly a universal message, a 
                         message of hope."  

                         The first cut, "Bless The Lord, O My Soul," brings that'message of 
                         hope' home with authority and complete joyous conviction, with solos 
                         by Ernest Cobband and Shirley Veesley. O'Landa elaborates, "We live 
                         in a day and time where we need to hear that everything is going to be 
                         all right. You watch the news and everything is so negative, and just to 
                         know that it's going to be all right makes a difference."  

                         For O'Landa, "He's Faithful" reflects experience with the One he sings 
                         about. "It's a confirmed fact that He's faithful. I can't depend on anybody 
                         else, even family members. I've just come to depend on Jesus Christ. 
                         He's never let me down yet."  

                         "Sho' Do Love Ya" is a personal declaration of all out love for Jesus and 
                         one of O'Landa's favorites.  

                         Whatever the tempo or the title, this choir has a message. "The key 
                         thing we try to present is honesty and realism," comments O'Landa. 
                         We're trying to speak life to the kids out there -you don't have to commit 
                         suicide...you don't have to do drugs or sell out your soul. Hey, we're all 
                         filthy rags, but'greater is He that is within me than he that is in the 
                         world.'" And ultimately, that's what O'Landa Draper & The Associates 
                         are all about-bringing hope, faith and God's love and life-changing 
                         power to all generations through their music and their lives. 

 
 

 

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