Updated: May 14, 2020
By James W. Wade III
Wednesday, May 13, 2020
Hello, welcome to another story in my Gospel Music series, highlighting some of Cleveland's Gospel History. Each week we shed some light on groups and individuals who have contributed to the rich history in the city.
We have been featuring some history in the Cleveland, Ohio area, featuring various groups, singers, and musicians. To read some of the past stories, click on the link at the bottom of this week's story.
This week I want to talk about a group that has been around through four generations. The Weeden Family Singers, this large family, continues to sing in many places, including Fox 8 Cleveland's Morning Show. If you are close to my age, you may remember their father, the late Dr. John T. Weeden Sr.
He pastored St. Timothy Missionary Baptist Church located at 71st and Carnegie in Cleveland, Ohio, for forty plus years, along with their mother, the late Gladys Mae Weeden, pianist.
Now me being my mother's only child, I always wondered how big families got along. Well, I am sure every family has some ups and downs, but this was originally a family of 12 children born from this union in Indianapolis, Indiana, where Dr. Weeden founded and pastored Eastern Star Baptist Church for 22 years before coming to Cleveland.
Within the group now are two sisters, one brother, some of their children, grandchildren, great and great-great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, in-laws, and other family members and associates.
In talking to one of now matriarchs of the group Phyllis Weeden Oliver, she shared the family began singing as children (4 oldest) and were called the Weeden Wonders in Indianapolis, Indiana. God truly blessed them, and as years went by and the family grew, the name changed to "The Weeden Family Singers."
In November 2019, at The Gospel Music Historical Society honored them with The Mixed
Group Award. This family has lost a few brothers and sisters, Uncle Bill and Sarah, to only name a few. Sarah who's daughter pays her homage by singing under the name of Sarah's Girl, aka Stacey Richardson.
Richardson is the granddaughter of Dr. Weeden shared one of her memories being in the choir. "In preparation leading up to the album recording, we rehearsed so much, but what stands out for me is the entire family had community prayer. No matter where we were, we had to stop, excuse ourselves, and go somewhere and pray collectively. It gave me a sense of pride to be participating with MY FAMILY for a purpose. There were so much hype and anticipation leading up to the big night, and just walking into the church that night was electrifying. It was standing room only, and we were ready! " said Stacey.
I remember that recording well amazed how well they sounded that night. "At the end of the night, it felt like prayer works because the service was everything we prepared. All the rehearsals, all those that promoted us, all that were in attendance came together. And I felt accomplished and excited and prepared, and in the midst of it all, it was all based on us being in sync and much prayer." said Stacey.
Locally they were known for being on Cleveland's Channel 5 Morning Exchange Show every Xmas Eve for over thirteen years. Now they are seen on Fox 8 Morning Show for many years every Martin Luther King Jr. Day showing picture of Dr. Weeden and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The family was nominated and won in the Choir category for Cleveland's First Black Gospel Music Awards. Performances have been heralded at Cleveland's Karamu House, sang National Anthem for Grand Opening of the Greater Cleveland Science Center, Cleveland Holiday Lighting Ceremony on Public Square.
They also have sung Annually for the American Foreign Exchange Students, Ohio State and National Conventions, sang extensively in Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, Georgia, throughout the United States and Internationally in Oslo Norway.
They appeared with Minister Thomas Whitfield, Rev. Al Green, Evangelist Shirley Caesar, and Dr. Bobby Jones in Nashville, Tennessee, and other engagements and places too numerous to mention.
Their music ministry has taken them into many institutions for the sick and shut-in, homes, concerts in many churches, and also for the Sickle Cell Foundation.
The Weeden Family Singers, in 1984, was blessed to record their first album, "Victory Shall Be Mine" written by Pianist David Crawford. Musicians who participated on the album was Avis D. Graves, Andrus Murray, Robert Harper, Tyrone Vernon, and Craig Harris. Paul Weeden Jr. was the director.
They feel that God has chosen and anointed them to do extraordinary work for Him and have promised to love one another as taught and to serve God always. Shout out to Raymond Weeden on January 1, 2020 he received the Oath of Office from Ohio State Representative Phillip M. Robinson Jr., To serve the Village of Walton Hills Council.
The generations are changing, but they thank God for our little, children, young and older adults, and our Senior Saints. JW Media Entertainment Group would like to salute this group.
Their Motto is: "THE FAMILY THAT PRAYS TOGETHER STAY TOGETHER"
Editors Note: See you next week with more Cleveland Gospel History & make sure you catch our Gospel Tuesday Show each week on YouTube.