I have often said that one of the more interesting things about music in Louisville is the wide variety of styles and genres coming from here, often under the radar of most regular citizens and artists alike. Case in point: Gospel music and for today, Donald L. Watkins
, 58, who died on November 4. The obituary referenced his Gospel music connections, but in no great detail. One of my tasks as the editor of Louisville Music News
is to find and note those passings and when I got to Donald L. Watkins, I thought to do a bit of research. The obit had noted that he was a writer, promoter and recording artist and so it was so and more. I found this bit of biography on his CDBaby page
“He later was one of the original organizing members of Bobby Jones & New Life Singers. He was instrumental in the organization of the Fisk Gospel Choir and served a long stint as Nashville Chapter Representative for Gospel Music Workshop of America. In the late 1980’s and early 90’s Donald Watkins was one of the premier gospel music artists in the world after having recorded with GOSPEARL Records the hit album “He Got Up” and his sophomore project “When Jesus Comes For Me.” He was tapped by the Benson Group to head the Black Gospel Music Division to which he with the help of Gentry McCreary , Butch McGhee signed Richard Smallwood and the Smallwood Singers, Thomas Whitfield, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Don Degrate Delegation, & Keith Pringle….On March 27th Donald recorded his new project entitled Just Ask
at the Rock Cosmopolitan Church Louisville, Ky, with special guest Evangelist Esther Smith and Bobby Jones. The project is being produced by Rodney McBride. With such writers as Milton Turner Lisha Turner & Ardelia Fields.”
Watkins had given up his Gospel music career to return to Louisville to care for his ailing mother, which he did until she passed away earlier in this decade, and apparently, had begun to work again, although there is not much after the 2003 CD Just Ask. He was working with Louisville pastor and Gospel Music label God Is Alive Music Group owner Milton Turner.
While the secular music scene here in town doesn’t much cotton to Gospel music, particularly Black Gospel music, it should be noted that nonetheless, it is a part of the music culture of Louisville and, I suspect, a vibrant one and, accordingly, we should pay more attention to it and report notable events, including the passing of Donald L. Watkins, singer and writer.