Kenneth Glover performed professionally for more than 70 years. (Courtesy photo)

Kenneth Glover, one of the most gifted gospel vocalists to grace the local and international stage, passed away on September 13.  He was 84 years old.

Glover’s family held a public viewing on Wednesday, September 20, at Harrison & Ross Mortuary, 4601 South Crenshaw Boulevard in Los Angeles.

With a career spanning more than seven decades, Glover garnered international acclaim as well as hundreds of thousands of fans throughout the world inspired by his creative renditions of traditional hymns.

His delivery of songs like “I Can Feel the Spirit in This Place,” “Without Him,” “His Eye is on the Sparrow,” “He Knows How Much We Can Bear,” and “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” remained fan favorites whenever he appeared in concert.

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Kenneth Glover in the 1970s. (Courtesy photo)

In a 2020 Sentinel interview, Glover credited God for his vocal talents, saying, “Whatever I have is a gift from God. I try to sing as beautifully as I can [because] this is my mission in life,” he said.  “I feel that God gave me one gift – to touch people through singing.”

Many members of the Los Angeles faith community equated Glover’s music ministry with the some of the legends in the genre.  In fact, the “Singing Missionary” – as Glover was affectionately called – often shared the stage with gospel notables such as Clara Ward, Albertina Walker, Shirley Caesar, The Caravans, and James Cleveland.

“I grew up listening to Kenneth Glover ‘The Singing Missionary’ and his recordings.  His delivery was sincere and authentic…truly, one-of-a-kind. My vocabulary fails me in conveying my respect for his talent, ministry and kind demeanor,” said the Rev. Calvin B. Rhone, chapter representative of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Gospel Music Workshop of America.

Sharing her reaction to Glover’s singing, opera singer Henrietta Davis said, “Each time I would hear him sing it was phenomenal. He meant every word that came out of his mouth to pierce and touch your heart and your being.”

Dr. Margaret Pleasant Douroux, a renowned gospel composer and CEO of the Heritage Music Foundation, recalled hearing Glover during a worship service at Mount Moriah Baptist Church where her father, the late Rev. Earl Pleasant, served as pastor.

“For most of us, we experienced the powerful and gifted ministry of Kenneth Glover for the first time. Thank God that after this initial experience, Kenneth Glover and I shared many programs and God blessed and expanded our outreach,” noted Dr. Douroux.

Another longtime friend, Quaford Coleman, offered similar comments about Glover’s ministry, which Coleman witnessed starting as a youngster in the mid-1960s and continuing until the present.

“I have been blessed beyond measure to have had a front row seat in the bleachers watching the journey of Kenneth Glover. And to be considered a close friend not only to him, but his stellar manager, the late Rev. William Green, was an honor,” Coleman said.

“I think there are two distinct qualities that was threaded throughout Kenneth Glover’s illustrious, unique and multi-faceted music ministry. He remained true to God and true to his God-given talents. His legacy will live forever in his music.”

A native of Newark, New Jersey, Glover was born on December 17, 1938.  He was encouraged by his mother, Mrs. Florine Glover, to focus on his vocal artistry. Although he’s never received any formal music training, he learned to develop qualities such as breathing control, intonation and other skills to perfect his singing.

In recognition of his incredible talent, Glover was honored by the cities of Los Angeles, Newark, and Washington, D.C., along with the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, the California State Assembly, the Sugar Ray Robinson Foundation and countless faith-based and community organizations.

“Kenneth Glover is now singing with the angels and I’m sure he’s giving them some tips,” said Davis with a smile. “He will be forever missed in the music world of gospel and in our hearts.” Narvelan Coleman contributed to this article.