James Cleveland Singers Gene Viale Passes

Written by: Gregory Gay

Gene Viale, a former member of the  James Cleveland Singers has passed away. 

Reared in the San Francisco area, Viale’s musical foundation was molded by the music he heard in the pentecostal church.  In his teen years,  he joined the Voices of Victory, soon becoming one of the group’s lead singers.   While visiting family in Southern California, Viale met Reverend James Cleveland. Impressed with Gene’s talent and fervor,  Rev. Cleveland asked Gene to join his group.   Along with Roger Roberts and Odessa McCastle, the James Cleveland Singers recorded Heaven, That Will be Good Enough for Me for Savoy in 1964 and embarked upon a successful tour across the United States.

Viale set out on his own recording What Color is God on the Checker label and continued to perform in churches and auditoriums  across the United States and overseas.  Viale performed for Rev Jesse Jackson’s Operation Breadbasket in Chicago and also made appearances on the groundbreaking Jubilee Showcase show hosted by Sid Ordower .  He  recently shared reflections of his 40 years in gospel in his autobiography, I Remember Gospel and I Keep on Singing released in 2010.

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