Gospel, R&B Singer James Phelps Dies at 78

Funeral services for Gospel and R&B singer James Phelps will be held Thursday in celebration of the "life, the man, the music," according to an announcement Monday.

Phelps, who performed with soul greats including Lou Rawls and Sam Cooke, died in Inglewood, Calif., last Tuesday after suffering complications of diabetes, reported Elder Lee M. Harris, who co-wrote an autobiography of Phelps.

Aside from performing with soul greats and gospel groups - including the Gospel Songbirds, the Holy Wonders and the Soul Stirrers – Phelps was the former leader of the Soul Stirrers and the founder of the Clefs of Calvary.

"A man with a golden voice ... he will be sorely missed by his family, friends and fans," remarked Michael Hawkridge, Phelps' manager.

According to Hawkridge, who moderates a Facebook page named "The James Phelps Story," funeral services for Phelps will be held at Inglewood Cemetery Mortuary. The viewing will be held Wednesday between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., and the funeral will be held Thursday at 11:30 a.m.

In honor of Phelps, radio stations in various cities will be playing his gospel music, including stations in Shreveport, La.; Oakland, Calif.; and Chicago.

His autobiography, The James Phelps Story, meanwhile, is set to publish soon, according to Hawkridge.

"The Phelps family would like to thank everybody for all of their prayers and emails," Hawkridge added.

Arguably the most notable among Phelps' songs is "Love is a Five-Letter Word," which was hit single in 1965.

Phelps was 78 at the time of his death.

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