Quartet Gospel Legend Keith “Wonderboy” Johnson Dies
One of Alabama's and America's favorite gospel quartet legends, Keith "Wonderboy" Johnson has passed away unexpectedly at the age of 50 Friday. Gospel legend Keith "Wonderboy" Johnson passed away leaving the Gospel music community and fans in disbelief. He was known for his hits "Send A Revival", "Be Right" and "Let Go, Let God".
Johnson was born as Keith Lamar Johnson on May 17, 1972, in Brooklyn, NY. When he was five years old, Johnson’s family started calling him “Wonderboy” for his wonderous musical talents. As a teenager, he enjoyed going to Harlem’s Apollo Theater to see great gospel acts such as John P. Kee and the Rev. James Cleveland. During his teens, he sang with the Boys Choir of Harlem and with his father’s quartet group, The Spiritual Voices.
Johnson’s first Black Smoke Music Worldwide hit was 1998’s “Hide Behind the Mountain,” a rootsy acapella track with a steady drumbeat. Then, came other hits such as the massive “Be Right,” “Send A Revival,” “I’ll Fly Away,” and “I’ve Got a Feeling” which showcased the singer’s gravelly tenor. In 2004, he moved on to RCA-owned Verity Records where he released two albums and scored his biggest hit of all, “Let Go and Let God.” Over the years, Johnson’s bouncy rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” has become an annual favorite on gospel radio stations.
After one-off albums with Malaco Records and Motown Gospel, Johnson scored a production deal with SRT Entertainment which released his album, Keep Pushin’, through a distribution deal with Shanachie Records. “I am saddened to hear of the passing of Keith `Wonderboy’ Johnson,” says Shanachie General Manager, Randall Grass. “I first heard his song `Let Go and Let God’ around 20 years ago and was immediately impressed; here was an artist injecting the quartet tradition into a contemporary style and it was great. A few years ago, we had the opportunity to release a new album by him which was an equally satisfying melding of traditional and contemporary gospel. His contribution has been great, and he will be missed.”
This past spring, Johnson returned to Black Smoke Worldwide where he released the album, Restructure, Renew & Reunion, which featured the radio single, “It Was You.” Johnson has also acted in touring musicals such as “PMS” and “What A Man Wants, What A Woman Needs.” “He had a bubbly personality,” says Glinda Perkins, Program Director for WXVI in Montgomery, AL. “He was very personable and very serious about music. He was his own best pitchman and even though he had people who worked for him, he was always the best promoter for his music.” Johnson is survived by his parents Susan and Phillip Johnson; a sister Sonya Denise Johnson; and two daughters, Brianna Destiny Johnson and Elyse Victoria Johnson.
Keith was a friend and brother and was always nice during my encounters with him. Prayers to his family, gospel industry and his fans. His music will live on forever. Funeral arrangements will be announced later.
Partial Article Credit: Bill Carpenter