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With an exhaustive list of career credits, singer and pastor SHIRLEY CAESAR tirelessly works in the name of Jesus Christ. She believes the Lord is trusting her to deliver the Word, and her efforts speak greatly to her faith and application of it. Her latest musical effort, Shirley Caesar & Friends, is a collection of collaborations intended to bridge gaps. She believes the Lord has charged her with delivering his Word, and finding more outlets for the great teachings is essential. "If it's not saying anything to the people, I don't want it!"
Shirley Caesar & Friends brings together the best in the world of gospel with legends in the world of popular music for one great cause - praising God! Featured collaborators include Grammy Award-winners Patti LaBelle and Gladys Knight, R&B songstress Faith Evans, the incomparable Oleta Adams and traditional and contemporary gospel All Stars Kirk Franklin, Desmond Pringle, Kim Burrell, and Dottie Peoples. This diverse compilation of inspirational songs is boldly moving for a legendary gospel woman who has been recording for more than 40 years.
Raised in North Carolina, Pastor Shirley grew in an environment of obstacles. Segregation, the death of her father at eight years old, and caring for a semi-invalid mother made for a less than ideal upbringing for this budding star, but she accepted the challenges with her head held high. She has stayed close to her roots, but her personal and professional credits prove her unfaltering devotion.
Pastor Shirley began singing as a young girl in church. Meanwhile struggling with school, she was encouraged to pursue goals outside of academics. In characteristic strength, she continued with education while developing into a remarkable musical talent. She eventually graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing from Shaw University, and has been granted several honorary degrees from other educational institutions. Her musical career also flourished. She began her professional singing career with the Caravans in the mid '60s, performing and recording with the group. In 1966 her solo career began to take flight as audiences learned of and yearned for her soul-stirring voice.
Pastor Shirley has recorded over forty albums since the '60s exploring her gift and spreading messages of faith. She has participated in over 16 compilations and three gospel musicals, Mama I Want to Sing, Sing: Mama 2, and Born to Sing: Mama 3. Her credits also include a series of commercials for MCI Communica-tions and several awards for her recordings. She has received 11 Grammy Awards, 13 Stellar Awards, 18 Doves, 3 RIAA gold certifications, an Essence Award, McDonald's Golden Circle Lifetime Achievement Award, NAACP Achievement Award, SESAC Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as induction into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Pastor Shirley has made several notable appearances including the televised Live from Disney World Night of Joy, The Gospel According to VH-1, a White House performance for George Bush, and a speech on the Evolution of Gospel Music to the US Treasury Department.
While Pastor Shirley has enjoyed a fulfilling career, her personal achievements are just as commendable. She is married to Bishop Harold Williams, her husband of 20 years. She is pastor of a growing congregation, Mount Calvary Word of Faith Holy Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. This ministry has grown from seventeen to over 500 members. She cites her mother as a strong influence in her decision to give so selflessly of herself. The pastor has committed a sizeable portion of all concert sales to her Outreach Ministries, continues to deliver weekly sermons, and leads an annual Outreach Ministries conference. She notes, "I cannot sweeten the Atlantic Ocean, but I can take a pitcher out of the ocean and sweeten that." Living a life devoted to greatness, Pastor Shirley confidently faces the world's ills, doing her part to make it all a little better. With a schedule including recording, performing, and ministering, Pastor Shirley constantly finds ways to spread messages of love and encouragement. She is a warm soul with remarkable intentions and talent evidenced by her selfless acts and expansive artistic prowess.
Shirley Caesar & Friends is significant as it expands the reach and perception of what gospel music should be. Says Pastor Caesar, "The Lord is using me to bridge the gap. He is trusting me, and I am so grateful. I just hope others will join in."