Sunday, June 29, 2008

Another great one leaves The Gospel Highway!

Hi folks it is a sad day for The Gospel Highway. Ira Tucker, lead singer of The Dixie Hummingbirds, passed away this week of heart failure, he was 83. Born in Spartanburg, S.C., on May 17, 1925, Tucker was initiated into the world of making music and money at about age 6 after he learned to whistle, said son, Ira Tucker, Jr.

Over the years, as the popularity of the group grew, the men sang throughout the country at black churches and gospel extravaganzas and performed often at Harlem's Apollo Theater. In 1942, they sang at the Cafe Society, an integrated nightclub in New York. "Ira was really proud of the role the Dixie Hummingbirds played in overcoming social injustice and prejudice," Zolten said. "He was proud of the time spent working in Cafe Society in New York, breaking down the barriers of segregation in the 1940s."

In more recent years Tucker collaborated with Wynonna Judd on "How Great Thou Art" and recorded a country album. Tucker and the group were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame; and in 2007 his album "Still Keeping It Real: The Last Man Standing" was nominated for a Grammy.

In addition to his son, Tucker is survived by his wife, Louise; two daughters, Sundray Tucker of Philadelphia and Lynda Laurance of Sherman Oaks, both of whom are vocalists; five grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

A funeral will be held Wednesday in Philadelphia. Memorial donations can be sent to the African American Museum, 701 Arch St., Philadelphia, PA 19106.