Gospel great Joe Ligon, lead vocalist of the Mighty Clouds of Joy passes away

Sad news  for the gospel music world. Legendary gospel singer Joe Ligon of the Mighty Clouds of Joy has passed away. Joe Ligon  passed away Sunday, December 11, 2016, according to an official statement released by his manager, Pastor Isaac Lindsey.

Joe Ligon died Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016

Joe Ligon was born in Troy, Alabama, but moved to California and started the gospel quartet in the 1950s. As founder and lead vocalist of the Grammy Award-winning Mighty Clouds of Joy, Joe Ligon had a signficant impact on modernizing gospel music. That modernization included changing from a vocal quartet backed by a sole electric guitar to a morphing into a group with R&B infusion  that used  bass, drums, and keyboards.

Mighty Clouds of Joy gospel group


Joe Ligon (center) sang lead with the Mighty Clouds of Joy

“Steal Away to Jesus” was the group’s first recording in 1960. The Mighty Clouds of Joy’s popular songs included “Time,” which crossed over to the R&B charts, “Mighty High,” and “Been in The Storm Too Long.” The Mighty Clouds of Joy won consecutives in 1978 and 1979 for Best Soul Gospel Performance, Traditional, and in 1991 for Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album.

The Recording Academy released the following statement about Joe Ligon’s death:

Joe Ligon was a beloved, groundbreaking artist whose unique singing and performing style made him truly unforgettable. A three-time GRAMMY® winner for his work with gospel group Mighty Clouds Of Joy, Joe remained steadfast in his commitment to musical excellence and the arts for over five decades, carving a path for other contemporary gospel artists. Our creative community has lost a truly gifted and cherished artist and our sincerest condolences go out to Joe’s family, friends, and all of those who had the pleasure of working with him.

Aditional information regarding final arrangements is pending.

Sarah Hearn
the authorSarah Hearn
Sarah Hearn is Editor-in-Chief of, founded in 2011. The site was recently named among Feedspot's Top Gospel and Christian Music Websites.  Sarah is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and the Gospel Music Association.
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