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Veteran gospel singer Bill Moss dies aged 76
POPULAR gospel singer and part of a successful gospel music dynasty, Bill Moss died on 1st July 2007. Born William Moss in Selma, Alabama, in 1931, he was one of nine children and began singing solo at the age of five in the church led by his mother, the Rev Mattie Moss. After serving in the Korean War he moved first to Boston and then, in the early 1960s, to Detroit, where he formed the Celestials. Combining both male and female voices in a foot-stomping Southern style with strong reliance on drums, Moss also introduced electric piano and wah-wah guitar to the line up. Commented The Times newspaper in an obituary today, "This was a controversial move in gospel circles at the time but one which lent a modern sophistication and soulful urbanity to his stirringly sanctified songs such as 'Just The Two Of Us', 'I've Already Been To The Water' and 'Turn It Over To Jesus'."
Moss also turned the Celestials into a family firm, introducing his sons Bill Jr and James into the group when they were still small children and regularly giving the opening spot at his shows to the Clark Sisters, the daughters of his late sister, the singer Mattie Moss Clark. Many of the family, including his wife Essie, went on to enjoy individual success as gospel singers. Moss recorded more than 30 albums for such labels as Westbound and Bilesee, the latter which he founded. He gave his last performance in March before he was admitted to hospital with emphysema.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.