Gospel musician and Stax Records artist Rance Allen has died. The 71-year-old leader of The Rance Allen Group, who had become a bishop in the Church of God in Christ, died Saturday morning at his home in Toledo, Ohio.
An eight-time Grammy nominee, Allen had grown up in the shadow of Motown, recorded for Stax and been influenced by Chuck Berry, but his songs were always a deeply profound and fervent expression of his religious faith.
“It’s music, it’s truth, it’s the anointing of God, it’s an exciting thing, and you can hear it,” Allen noted of his work in a 2011 interview with The Commercial Appeal.
In a statement on his passing, COGIC adjutant general Bishop Robert G. Randolph Jr. said, “Bishop Allen’s unique vocal ministry was an indispensable sound within the Church of God in Christ and Christendom. His gift transcended the boundaries of musical genre.”
A native of Monroe, Michigan, Allen had long been a fan of Berry Gordy’s Motown label. “As far as I was concerned, there was nothing that compared to Motown — until the Rance Allen Group went and tried to get on the label and there was no place for us,” Allen said. “Then we went to Stax, and there was no place for us there either really, but they made a place.”