Darrell Luster, chairman of the gospel music division at Jackson"s Malaco Records, stated he met the Canton Spirituals in Milwaukee in 1982 and knew they were something special.

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“It was Harvey (Watkins) Jr., who only stepped out to sing a song now and also then. That guy,” Luster said. “This was prior to they exploded. Ns knew ago then. Harvey Sr. Was the rock of the group, and also Harvey Jr. Took it indigenous there.”

The Canton Spirituals have played all over the country and the world, won numerous gospel awards and also twice received Grammy nominations. Yet the many special moment, possibly, will certainly take ar next month as soon as Harvey Jr. Is presented through the thomas A. Dorsey many Notable achievement Award in ~ the 2017 stellar Gospel Music Awards.

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“I’ll be there to check out it,” Luster said. “I’d love to be the human being to present that compensation to him. Harvey has actually won about 12 stellar Awards, however those are voted on, and also you sit there and cross your fingers and hope it happens. This compensation is something where the organization has actually overwhelmingly said, ‘You worthy this.’ They determined to respect him, and also it’s spectacular.”

Harvey Watkins Jr. Has been the front guy of the Canton Spirituals due to the fact that his father’s fatality in 1994. The group actually began in the 1940s, for this reason it’s no surprised that Watkins’ earliest memory of listening come music room of the Canton Spirituals.

“This was in the early on 1960s ~ above a record player,” claimed Watkins Jr., a 1973 graduate of Rogers High school in Canton. “My uncle, I.S. Watkins, and also Warren G. Ward started the group. Mine uncle became my pastor.

“I remained in a group referred to as Songbirds the the South when I remained in high school, and also I didn’t want to it is in a gospel singer. I moved to Chicago (after graduation). Then the calling involved me, come come home and join the Canton Spirituals. That was in 1974. I’ve just missed 2 programs due to the fact that then.”

Watkins, a deacon in ~ Springhill Christian facility in Raymond, said his belief has watched him v both the an excellent and the hard times in his life.

“Faith is imperative, even through constant life,” that said. “When it concerns ministry, or a place in life you want such as pastoring, to sing or missionary work, it needs to it is in a calling, a positive thing. Singing with the Canton Spirituals was my calling. I think that’s a the majority of the reason why we’re still together.”

“Playing through Harvey Sr. Was favor playing for a great mentor, spiritually,” said Merlin Lucious, who has actually spent practically four decades with the group. “You might go come him because that anything. Harvey Jr. Take it over v the very same perspective and honored whatever his dad did. Additionally a great role model, a great big brother. Always there to give you advice, whether you think you need it or not.”

The 2017 mainly Awards will certainly be presented at the las Vegas olions Arena on in march 25 and broadcast top top TV One on April 9. The mainly Pre-Show, which will certainly take place March 24 come showcase non-televised winners, will incorporate Watkins Jr. Receiving the Dorsey accomplishment Award.

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“A boy prefer me, ns honored. I’m an extremely proud and excited to get it,” he said. “I was influenced to love gospel to sing by my father and (gospel singer) Eddie Jackson (of Jackson). I’m an extremely thankful for whatever we’ve won.”

The Canton Spirituals proceed to tour two or 3 weeks a month. The team has a prolonged relationship v Malaco, i beg your pardon Watkins Jr. Calls a blessing. Their many recent CD, "Keep Knocking," to be released in 2013, and also their music have the right to be purchased with Malaco, iTunes, Amazon and Walmart. The group can additionally be found on Facebook, Twitter and also Instagram.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” Watkins Jr. Stated of the role that confidence plays in the music that the Canton Spirituals. “I’m older, and also I’m an ext involved with my church and also know more about Jesus Christ. It means more come me once I have the right to inspire someone.”