Gospel music legend Bishop Rance Allen died Saturday morning at the age of 71, according to his family. The cause of death has not yet been released. His family will hold a private memorial, and a public ceremony will be held when COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, according to a statement released by Bishop Robert G. Rudolph of the Church Of God In Christ.
"Bishop Rance Allen passed away around 3 AM this morning," said Allen's wife of 49 years, Ellen Allen, and his manager, Toby Jackson, in a joint statement. "I wasn't expecting to hear this news this morning," said Tyscot Records President, Bryant Scott, who was nearly speechless upon hearing of the singer's death. "This is a great loss to us personally but also to the church community at large."
The Rance Allen Group's progressive brand of Gospel and Allen's signature grunts and squalls have inspired a generation of gospel artists ranging from Kirk Franklin and Fred Hammond to John P. Kee and Bryan Andrew Wilson. In the 1970s, they pioneered a fusion of R&B rhythms with spiritually charged message music on hits such as "Ain't No Need of Crying," "I Belong to You" and their cover of The Temptation's "Just My Imagination" as "Just My Salvation." The retro-soul vibe carried over into the group's hits of the last two decades such as "You That I Trust," "Miracle Worker," and "Something About the Name Jesus," which has clocked over 175 million streams. It's a brand that won them fans beyond the Gospel world such as American Idol's Randy Jackson, and Pop rockers Huey Lewis & The News. In a 2019 Rolling Stone interview, Lewis cited "Ain't No Need of Crying" as one of his all-time Top 5 favorite soul songs alongside tracks by Ray Charles and others.
Bishop Rance Allen was born in 1948 in Monroe, Michigan, one of 12 children. At the age of five he began his preaching ministry and by age nine was preaching throughout Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. He was licensed to preach at age 12 and has since carried the Word of the Lord throughout the United States and abroad. In 1978 he was ordained an Elder by the late Bishop John Seth Bailey and subsequently served 6-1/2 years as Associate Pastor of Holiness Temple Church of God In Christ (COGIC) in Monroe, MI.
In 1985 the late Bishop Gilbert Patterson founded New Bethel Church in Toledo, OH and installed Bishop Allen there as Pastor where he currently serves today. He served many years on the board of the Neighborhood Improvement Foundation of Toledo, Inc., a community organization whose mission was dedicated to improving inner-city environments. In recognition of his dedicated years in ministry the Urban Bible Institute of Detroit bestowed upon him an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity in 1995.
In September, 2011 by God's amazing grace Bishop Allen was elevated to the office of Jurisdictional Prelate of Michigan Northwestern Harvest in Detroit, succeeding the late Bishop Alfred Knight, Jr. and was consecrated on November 7, 2011 during the 104th Holy Convocation in St. Louis, Missouri. He has also been blessed with the awesome and humbling opportunity to preach the main message to thousands during the 90th, 96th and 105th International COGIC Holy Convocations.
Bishop Allen has been married to Evangelist Ellen Marie Groves since December, 1970. The calling on her life has been an enormous blessing to Bishop Allen as she has helped him take his ministries to a greater level in God. While there are no natural children born to this union they share their love and support to many God-children.