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Songwriter, gospel singer Jessy Dixon dies aged 73
THE RENOWNED gospel singer Jessy Dixon died at his Chicago home on Monday 26th September, aged 73. During his diverse career the singer, songwriter, pianist worked with such diverse figures as James Cleveland, Paul Simon, DeGarmo & Key and Bill Gaither. Born on 12th March 1938 in San Antonio, Jessy was a child protégé. At the age of 12 he had become the organist for Chicago's True Light Baptist Church. Discovered by James Cleveland, he played on several albums produced by the gospel patriarch then Dixon formed the Jessy Dixon Singers before in 1971 having a conversion experience and dedicated his life wholly to Christ. The same year the Jessy Dixon Singers became the first gospel act ever to sing at the Newport Jazz Festival where they came to the attention of Paul Simon. The Singers opened for Simon at his concerts and recorded with him. The pinnacle of the Dixon/Simon collaboration came with the release of the 'Live Rhymin' Simon' album. It included the group's version of Andrae Crouch's "Jesus Is The Answer".
As a solo artist Dixon recorded the albums for Light Records 'It's Alright Now' (1977), 'You Bring The Sun Out' (1979) (the title track being later recorded by R&B singer Randy Crawford) and 'Satisfied Live' (1982). Switching to Benson/Power Discs Dixon recorded more albums and in 1985 began a close partnership with Christian rock pioneers DeGarmo & Key, singing a duet with the group on "Destined To Win". In the '90s Dixon seemed to fade from view before making a surprise comeback as a regular participant to Bill & Gloria Gaither's Homecoming Friends videos and albums. In 2006 Dixon became a minister with Calvary Ministries International, earning a theology doctorate. The Christian Music Hall Of Fame inducted Jessy in 2008. During his career Dixon received seven Grammy nominations.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.