James Cleveland Lifetime Achievement Award

2017 Recipient – Spencer Taylor

The “Godfather” Spencer Taylor, Jr. is the lead singer for The Highway QC’s of Chicago, IL. Spencer Taylor was born on March 6, 1928 in Indianola, Mississippi. He was educated in the Indianola Public Schools system, and graduated from Natchez College in Natchez, Mississippi. At the age of eight, he started singing with the family group called “The Taylor Family”. By him being so young and the lead singer, they would have to use a table to place him on so that he could be seen by the audience. After receiving his degree, Mr. Taylor moved from Indianola, MS to Chicago, IL in 1948, where he served in the Army and started a career as a postal worker. He sang with the well-known Gospel Group in Chicago, “The “Holy Wonders”. In 1956, Spencer Taylor Jr. joined the Highway QC’s, the group that launched the careers of several secular stars, including Lou Rawls, Johnnie Taylor, and Sam Cooke. A year after Spencer joined the group,Johnnie Taylor (no relation) quit to join the Soul Stirrers,creating a gap that lead to Spencer Taylor, Jr. becoming the lead singer of the Highway QC’s. In 1958 as the lead singer of the Highway QC’s, the group made their debut on the Vee Jay record label, pinning two hit singles “Something on my mind” and “The Way of the Hill” on their first recording. After a half century of seasoning with more than 40 releases, appearances at The Apollo Theater, Carnegie Hall and Madison Square Garden and performing with legends like Mahalia Jackson, Clara Ward and James Cleveland, Mr. Taylor is 89 years old and still going strong while being recognized around the world as a living legend.

Thomas A. Dorsey Most Notable Achievement Award

2017 Recipient – Harvey Watkins, Jr.

HARVEY WATKINS, JR. For four amazing decades, singer/songwriter/producer/musician HARVEY WATKINS, JR. has been a gospel music arbiter, consistently pushing the traditional genre into new melodic territory. A Mississippi native Harvey was born November 2, 1954, to the late Mr. Harvey Watkins, Sr. and Mrs. Lee Emma Watkins, the fourth child and only son he was special from the beginning. At the tender age of three he was diagnosed with a life threatening illness know as polio. His parents were firm believers in faith and the power of prayer. Knowing about the healing power of God, Harvey Jr. was healed. He learned early on that if you call on Jesus he will answer prayer. Mr. Watkins is married to a wonderful woman of God, Mrs. Delores Watkins who has been his prayer partner for the last 40 years. They have on daughter Ms. Tina McLin (Mike), and one granddaughter McKinzie. Harvey is the lead singer/owner of noticed legends The Canton Spirituals. His accolades and award wins over the years have recognized his excellence in all areas of gospel music. To his credits, he has two gold albums for live in Memphis I and Memphis II. This Grammy nominated, Stellar and Dove Award winning Artist truly was sent by God. He has won numerous awards for his achievement in the Music Ministry, (Best Male Vocalist, Best Album, Best Song, Best Songwriter, Best Producer) etc. He is an acclaimed producer, songwriter, singer, musician and has written numerous hit songs that introduced him to cross over success, such as Mississippi Po Boy, Fix It Jesus, I Made It, Clean Up What I Messed Up, and Heavenly Choir. He was called and appointed Deacon of Spring Hill Christian Center under the leadership of Pastor Mr. J. Williams. Of all of his accomplishment, none compare to his commitment to giving God the ultimate, which is to edify, enrich, encourage and be empowered as he Minister the Word of God Through Song.

Ambassador Dr. Bobby Jones Legends Award

2017 Recipient – Rev. Clay Evans

Reverend Dr. Clay Evans is the prolific founder of the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church where he served as pastor and shepherd for fifty years. He became known as the pastor of pastors around Chicago and vicinity, and today is affectionately referred to as “The Godfather.” Dr. Evans was born June 23, 1925 to the late Henry Clay and Estanauly Evans in Brownsville, Tennessee. He has been married to Lutha Mae Hollingshed for sixty-nine years. They are the proud parents of five children, one of whom preceded them in death in December 1996. He was ordained a Baptist Minister in 1950, but matriculated through various institutions of higher learning including Chicago Baptist Institute, Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, Trinity College and International Bible Institute & Seminary, and the University Of Chicago Divinity School. He also received an Honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree from Arkansas Baptist College. Dr. Evans has been responsible for launching the ministerial careers of ninety-three persons. He has been a leader in the Civil Rights Movement since 1965. Dr. Evans is Founding Chairman of Operation PUSH and Chairman Emeritus of Rainbow PUSH. He is the Founding National Chairman of the African American Religious Connection (AARC), the Founding President of Broadcast Ministers Alliance (BMA), and the Founder of the Clay Evans Scholarship Foundation, Inc. (CESF). He has served as advisor and board member of numerous civic and religious organizations, including the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. Dr. Evans has authored six exciting publications, namely, From Plough Handle to Pulpit (an autobiography), Gateway to an Abundant Life, A Chat with the Elder, Questions and Answers to Daily Situations, It is No Secret What God Can Do and The Fellowship Manual, A Handbook of Church Polity and Practice. Dr. Evans has been the featured soloist on more than thirty albums recorded with both his 250 voice choir and the AARC Mass Choir. He also recorded several albums featuring his powerful sermons, including “Job’s Greatest Problems” and “Every Kind in the Net.” One special album features prayers by Dr. Evans, Reverend Lacy Banks and Reverend Consuella York. Dr. Evans retired as pastor of the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church on December 8, 2000, but he continues to minister at funeral service of lots of old members of Fellowship, as well as preach powerful sermons at churches in and around Chicago and churches all over the United States of America. He is someone that everyone should get to know.

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