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 Thomas Anthony Whitfield, Jr

Thomas Anthony Whitfield, Jr

Birth
Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, USA
Death 21 Jun 1992 (aged 38)
Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, USA
Burial Livonia, Wayne County, Michigan, USA
Memorial ID 9901 · View Source
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Gospel composer, musician, singer and producer. Referred to by gospel music fans as "The Maestro" because of his reputation as a consummate composer, musician, singer and producer. He is best known for organizing one of the most popular contemporary gospel choirs of all time, the Thomas Whitfield Company, and for producing best-selling recordings for gospel artist Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Shirley Caesar, Yolanda Adams, Douglas Miller, Keith Pringle, Bishop Paul Morton and for Aretha Franklin. Whitfield has been recognized by many as being the catalyst for helping mold the very character of contemporary gospel music with his intricate choral arrangements and merging of musical styles ranging from Jazz to classical into existing gospel music traditions. Thomas Anthony Whitfield, Jr. was the eldest of five boys born to the late Thomas and Jacqueline Whitfield. His Great-Grandmother inspired him to play the piano and he began taking lessons at the age of five. By age ten he was mastering the organ and playing at church. Soon he was playing all over the city. After graduating from Central High School, he attended the Detroit Conservatory of Music to enhance his musical gifts through the study of music theory and composition. He not only challenged himself, but he shared his gifts by instructing, and mentoring other musicians and singers. After his studies he eventually joined the Detroit Board of Education as a music instructor. During this time Whitfield began to write, compose, arrange and play for various churches, soloists, and groups including for Rev. James Cleveland. He and a friend founded the Thomas Whitfield Company in 1977. The choir was comprised of 40 of the most renowned singers, soloists, and musicians in the city of Detroit. All were hand picked by Whitfield. Initially, some listeners declared his music too contemporary. However, by the mid-1980's, Whitfield had produced, arranged, and or written some of gospel's most enduring recordings. In 1984 he received the first of three Grammy nominations. Minister Thomas Whitfield departed this life at only 38 years of age from heart complications. Among the more than 200 songs Whitfield wrote and or recorded are "Hallelujah, Anyhow," "I'm Encouraged," "God Wants Our Praises," and "We Need A Word from the Lord." Thomas Whitfield was inducted into The International Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1999. He also was honored posthumously with the 1999 James Cleveland Award at the 14th Annual Stellar Music Awards. The Thomas Whitfield Company and Whitfield's brothers (through The Whitfield Music Group) continue "The Maestro's" music legacy.

Bio by: Curtis Jackson


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 9 Jun 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 9901
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Thomas Anthony Whitfield, Jr (30 Apr 1954–21 Jun 1992), Find A Grave Memorial no. 9901, citing Mount Hope Memorial Gardens, Livonia, Wayne County, Michigan, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .