Who was O Landa Draper?
O Landa Draper was an American gospel singer, songwriter, and choir director who won a Grammy Award for his album Live: A Celebration of Praise in 1997. He was the founder and leader of O Landa Draper & The Associates, a gospel choir that performed across the United States and abroad. He was also a mentor and a friend to many gospel artists, such as Kirk Franklin, Yolanda Adams, and Shirley Caesar. He was known for his energetic and charismatic style of choir directing, which influenced many others in the genre. He was born on September 29, 1963, in Memphis, Tennessee, and grew up in Alabama and Washington, D.C. He developed a passion for gospel music from his mother, Marie Draper, who was a gospel singer and promoter. He started his own choir at his high school and later at Memphis State University, where he studied music. He formed The Associates in 1986, with 12 members, and later expanded it to 60 members. He recorded his first album, Do It Again, in 1990, and went on to release six more albums, including Above and Beyond, Reflections, and Gotta Feelin’. He was nominated for five Grammy Awards, four Stellar Awards, and three Dove Awards during his career.
How did he die?
O Landa Draper died on July 21, 1998, at the age of 34, from kidney failure. He was in Nashville, Tennessee, to perform at the annual Bobby Jones Gospel Explosion, when he fell ill and was rushed to the hospital. He had been suffering from a short-term illness of kidney failure, which was not publicly disclosed until after his death. According to sitename The Washington Post, his death was a shock to his family, friends, and fans, who remembered him as a beloved and respected member of the gospel community. His funeral was held at the Temple of Deliverance Church of God in Christ in Memphis, and was attended by thousands of people, including many gospel celebrities. He was buried at the Memorial Park Cemetery in Memphis.
What is his legacy?
O Landa Draper left behind a legacy of excellence, innovation, and inspiration for the gospel music industry and beyond. He was one of the pioneers of the contemporary gospel choir, and one of the few who achieved worldwide fame and recognition. He also contributed to the education and development of aspiring gospel singers, becoming a teacher and a role model for many. He was featured in several documentaries and books about gospel music, and his music is still celebrated today. He is remembered as a legend of the gospel choir, and a leader in his field.