Founder and President of the Rainbow Push Coalition Reverend Jesse Louis Jackson, Sr. made a special return trip back home to join the city of Chicago and Gospel Music lovers on hand to celebrate the CD release of Reverend Clay Evans and the Ship, What A Legacy, Volume 1. The fifteen song disc features vintage recordings of Rev. Evans and the famed Fellowship Baptist Church Choir of Chicago during their early recording years in the 60s. What A Legacy has struck the right chord with its audience, entering the Billboard Top Gospel Albums Chart at number 21 and making its way to number 10 on the current chart.
Former Gospel Music Editor for Billboard Magazine and current Baylor University professor and founder of Baylor's Black Gospel Music Restoration Project Bob Darden expressed these sentiments, "The extraordinary thing is that the Rev. Clay Evans has never sought fame. And yet, for nearly six decades, he has reigned as one of the most influential pastors, undisputed preacher and revered singer in gospel music. What do you do when confronted with a living legend? You let him do what he does just about better than anybody -- preach, pray, and sing.
Jackson in his remarks remembered how he was driving down the expressway in Chicago one Sunday in 1965 along with then fellow University of Chicago Divinity School classmate Reverend Henry Hardy and heard Rev. Clay Evans singing I Must Tell Jesus on the radio. Jackson was so moved by Evans' singing, he turned the car around and headed for Fellowship Baptist Church and joined Fellowship that very Sunday. Reverend Clay Evans ordained Jesse Jackson as a minister of the Gospel in 1968. Their close association led to the organization of Operation PUSH in 1971. Reverend Evans was one of the first Chicago preachers to welcome Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Chicago.
Reverend Evans previewed the music for the audience as he and his sister Dr. LouDella Evans Reid shared historical information about the music of Fellowship with compilation co-producer and longtime Fellowship organist. Royal Mickey Warren. In the spirit of Fellowship, musical selections were presented by the LouDella Evans Reid Traditional Gospel Choir and the Gospel Dimensions trio consisting of Pastors Eric Thomas, Bryant Jones and DeAndre Patterson