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The woman who launched the careers of some of the most heralded gospel legends, the original Gospel Caravans–the late Rev. James Cleveland, Shirley Caesar, Inez Andrews and Dorothy Norwood — Albertina Walker has passed away.

Known as the beloved “Queen of Gospel,” Chicago-born Walker took the advice of her friend Mahalia Jackson and founded the legendary Caravans that evolved into worldwide acclaim in the 1950s. The evergreen “Oh Mary Don’t You Weep” became one of their greatest hits.

In early September this year rumors of her death were widespread online, but Walker was in fact hospitalized for respiratory distress and later underwent a Tracheotomy surgery that was reportedly successful.

As of 4:30 a.m. on October 8, Walker is no longer with us.

Her indomitable spirit lives on in a half a century’s worth of rich music recorded on 71 albums. Like all of the original members of the Caravans Ms. Walker pursued a solo career