AMERICA'S gospel community were shocked by the sudden death of gospel star O'Landa Draper. The 34-year-old choir director, writer and arranger died on July 21st in Nashville. Draper, who had come to Nashville to perform at the annual Bobby Jones Explosion, July 10-11, died of a short-term illness of kidney failure at Metro Nashville General Hospital. Draper, who lived in Memphis, Tennessee, was known for his energetic and talented direction of his 60-voice choir, The Associates. Gospel artist Ronald Winans described him as "unique, energetic and vibrant," while Draper's cousin, gospel singer Ann McCrary, said he was "on the cutting edge of contemporary gospel music." Formerly with Word Records, O'Landa Draper & The Associates signed with Warner Alliance in 1994. Their second Warner CD 'Reflections' was recently released. A five time Grammy nominee, Draper had worked with numerous artists including Billy Joel on the hit single "River Of Time". Draper was finalising plans to establish a conservatory of music in Memphis. CR

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