Shirley Caesar – First Lady of Gospel

The Queen of Gospel

Shirley Caesar is an American gospel artist who was born in Durham, North Carolina. She has been featured in 3 gospel musicals and more recently has become extremely popular with younger generations for her “You Name It” challenge which started after a performance of her song “Hold My Mule” went viral. Caesar has created numerous gospel hits and has maintained a career spanning over 70 years. She has earned her title as the Queen of Gospel Music.

Caesar began recording in 1951 for Federal Records at the age of twelve. She has released over 40 albums and participated in over 16 compilations. She has won 12 Grammy Awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award, 14 Stellar Awards, 1 RIAA gold certification, and countless other awards. She has also been inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.

Shirley Caesar has sold over 2.2 million albums since 1991. She began singing as a young girl for family and friends and later traveled around the Carolinas, accepting invitations to perform. In 1958, at 19, she joined the popular gospel music group, The Caravans. After 8 years with the group, she signed a solo record deal.

In 1971, “Put Your Hand in the Hand of the Man” earned Caesar her first Grammy Award and in 1975, her recording of the song “No Charge” became her first gold record. In 1977 she released her debut album, First Lady, with the secular record label, Roadshow Records. She was the first woman to ever record at the label and the album title was a reference to this. The title “First Lady” caught on with gospel DJ’s and promoters and she became known as “The First Lady of Gospel”. Her music was originally thought to be “too worldly” by the gospel community, but after switching to a gospel record label, she was able to grow her audience. Caesar has become an icon and pioneer in the gospel music world.

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