Gospel music singer Tunesha Crispell has passed away after a bout with cancer. Known as the "lady with the voice like light," Crispell has a voice that brings the illumination of Christ to the hearts of all who will listen. She is known for her stellar work as the lead singer with James Hall and Worship and Praise and her outstanding solo debut Just As I Am.
Crispell chronicled her cancer journey as seen in the video below. Exhibiting great bravery, Tunesha fought hard in her ongoing battle with cancer and won many times. While deeply saddened by her passing, we are lifting up her son Melvin Crispell III and other family members during this time.
Born in Brooklyn, NY, Tunesha grew up in a household where music was considered a second language. Both of her parents were singers and it was only natural that Tunesha would inherit her parent's love of music and the melodic voice to go along with it. "Music comes from both sides of my family," states Tunesha. "My mom sang with various gospel groups and my father was a secular artist in the 70's up until the 9o's. Till this day, if you pass them the mic, they'll show us what's up!"
Tunesha has worked with many gospel artists and has been featured on several of Stellar Award nominee, James Hall's projects including We Are At War, A James Hall Christmas and Live at Lincoln Center in which you may recognize her voice on "God Specializes", "Sweet Jesus Boy" & "Anything But Fail". It was while working with James Hall that Tunesha realized it was time for her to pursue a solo career. "I never really thought of myself as being a solo artist," says Tunesha. "I was comfortable being in the background, kinda blending in, but my experience with James Hall showed me that God had not called me to blend in, but to be different. He instilled the confidence in me that gave me the peace to go forth in what He was calling me to do."
With a voice unlike any other in the gospel industry today, Tunesha Crispell is expanding the way gospel music is viewed and is a voice that will undeniably open doors for an emerging generation of gospel artists who are comfortable with the uniqueness of their talent. "I believe God has given me a unique sound, one that hasn't been heard in Gospel music," declares Tunesha. "There's a richness, a smoothness in the simplicity of my voice that makes it enjoyable, but it's the anointing that makes it powerful. With out God, it's just another voice."
With such artistic influences as Tramaine Hawkins, Lalah Hathaway, Ella Fitzgerald and Chaka Khan, it's understandable why Tunesha's first solo project, Just As I AM offers such a unique brand of gospel music. Just as I AM infuses the fundamental elements of gospel and jazz making this project not only life giving, but also a project that all generations can enjoy.
The first single, "Holy" which happens to be Tunesha's favorite, was birthed out of enjoying a second honeymoon with her husband, writer and producer, Melvin Crispell. "While riding our mopeds in the valley of the mountains in Hawaii and admiring the beautiful scenery of nature, all we could do was look around and say, 'Wow, look at what our God created,' laughs Tunesha. "On our way back home, my husband wrote "Holy" out of what we had experienced with God in nature."
Having touched the hearts of many both at home and abroad, Tunesha Crispell's ministry of song is compared to the likes of Mahalia Jackson, Shirley Caesar, and Albertina Walker as they are considered the trailblazers of their time. The torch has been passed and the "lady with the voice like light" shall continue to shine.