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Gospel matriarch Dottie Rambo dies in road accident
74 YEAR old Southern gospel singer and composer Dottie Rambo was killed on 11th May in a bus accident in Mt Vernon, Missouri en route to a concert in Texas. An icon whose influence extended far beyond gospel music circles, Rambo is credited with penning more than 2,500 songs recorded by numerous artists, including Elvis Presley, Barbara Mandrell, Bill Monroe, Johnny Cash, Whitney Houston, Jerry Lee Lewis and Dolly Parton.
Born Joyce Reba Luttrell, Rambo grew up in Morganfield, Kentucky. She bean writing songs when she was only eight years old and by age 10 was singing on local radio. She became a Christian at age 12, a decision that wasn't supported by her father. He issued an ultimatum: Give up Christian music or leave. So Rambo hit the road and began performing in churches, forming a group called the Gospel Echoes.
Even early in her career, Rambo's songwriting was a calling card. While still in her teens, she signed a publishing deal with then-Louisiana governor/recording artist Jimmie Davis. She got her first big break signing a deal with Warner Bros Records. She later recorded for many years with the Nashville-based Benson Co's Heartwarming label. In 1968 she won a Grammy Award for best soul gospel performance for her album 'It's The Soul Of Me', stirring controversy as a white artist winning a category always dominated by blacks. That year, Billboard named her Trendsetter Of The Year.
Rambo's appeal knew no racial, musical or geographical bounds. In 1999 she netted the Dove Award for best traditional gospel song for "I Go To The Rock", performed by Houston on the soundtrack to The Preacher's Wife. She also duetted with Parton on her 2003 comeback hit "Stand By The River".
During the late '80s and early '90s Rambo battled a debilitating back injury and went through a divorce. But in recent years her health had improved and she was active again, touring and recording. She had completed a new project, 'Sheltered', which is slated for release by Daywind. The album features the last recording by Porter Wagoner and Rambo had planned to dedicate the disc to him. Through the years Rambo earned numerous honours. She was a member of the Gospel Music Hall Of Fame as a solo artist and as a member of the Rambos. In 1994, the Christian Country Music Association presented her with the Songwriter Of The Century Award and also gave her the Pioneer Award in 2003. She received the ASCAP Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000. She was inducted into the Kentucky Music Hall Of Fame in 2006. Last year she was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall Of Fame.
Rambo is survived by her sister, Nellie Slaton; two brothers, Jerry and Freddie Luttrell; a daughter; three grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. A memorial service was held on 19th May at Nashville's Christ Church.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.