(Before It's News)
OAKLAND, Calif. (May 4, 2014) – Dr. Helen James Haynes Stephens passed away peacefully, the evening of Saturday, May 3, 2014 at 10:30 p.m. under the care of hospice.
Statement from the Family:
“The Stephens Family wishes to thank everyone for their outpouring of love and prayers. Her passion was more than vocation – she used her gifts to their full potential, and as a result, her trailblazing contributions are forever etched in Gospel Music's timeline. We ask for your continued prayers during this difficult time.”
A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, Lady Stephens’ early musical instruction began at the age of 4, later accepting her first pianist position at 13 years old. After completing her degree at Dillard University in 1949, Helen married Arnold E. Stephens (1927-2009) in 1950 and shortly thereafter moved to California in 1953.
In 1965, she organized the “Stephens Singers,” and later organized the “The Voices of Christ” of Berkeley, California in 1969 with 23 members, which later grew to include 92 members the following year. Additionally, in 1979, Stephens founded “The Lighthouse Singers,” an interdenominational community-based gospel choir in Marin County, California. Lady Stephens traveled nationally with the late Rev. James Cleveland, and is most notably known as the organizer and long-serving Chapter Representative of the Northern California Chapter of the Gospel Music Workshop of America (GMWA), officially retiring in 2013. At the time of her passing, Lady Stephens remained an Emeritus member of the GMWA National Board of Directors.
She is survived by her children Reginold Stephens, Rene Stephens, and Rosalyn Stephens; 6 grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren.
Condolences can be sent to: The Stephens Family, 4968 Buckboard Way, El Sobrante, CA 94803. Homegoing details to follow.