Legendary Gospel Singer Eugene Smith Dead at 88

May 9, 2009 by  
Filed under Gospel Music, In The News

TBGB learned today from both Joseph Middleton and David Jones that Eugene Smith of the Roberta Martin Singers died today, May 9, at his home in Chicago.

The senior living apartments where Smith was a resident confirmed his passing. They found his body in his apartment this morning.

Eugene Smith just recently celebrated his 88th birthday; “Gospel Memories” dedicated its April 6 program to him.

Smith was a charter member of the Roberta Martin Singers, joining in 1933 when it was known as the Martin & Frye Quartette. He became the group’s manager when Martin decided to leave the road and concentrate on her publishing business.

I had the great pleasure to have known Smith these past few years and considered him a friend. He was one of the last of the living gospel pioneers. We were planning to go out to Burr Oak this Memorial Day weekend to visit Roberta’s grave and tidy it up a bit. It was a trip Eugene made many a Memorial Day to pay tribute to the woman who was so much a part of his life.

What Eugene once said about Roberta I want to paraphrase about Eugene: “There never has been, and never will be, another Eugene Smith. Uh-uh. No sir.”

Here is an article from the New York Times. Scholar and author Anthony Heilbut, a friend of Smith’s for 50 years, is quoted in this piece.

The Chicago Tribune’s Sara Olkon contributes this remembrance: Eugene Smith.

Visit Joseph Middleton’s tribute to Eugene on YouTube.

This Saturday morning’s “Gospel Memories” program will pay tribute to Eugene Smith, the celebrated singer, manager and announcer for the Roberta Martin Singers.

Here are the homegoing details, courtesy of President Dennis Cole of the Chicago Area Gospel Announcers Guild:


Monday, May 18, 2009

Tuesday, May 19, 2009
10am-11am Visitation
11:00 Service

All services will be held at:

4712 South Prairie Avenue
Chicago, IL
Pastor Maceo L. Woods, Officiating

Pastor Joseph Jackson
of Mount Pisgah Church
Will Deliver Eulogy

Please join me in remembering this special man and praying for those whom he touched so deeply over the years with his singing, his personality and his abiding faith.

Photo: Eugene Smith in front of Ebenezer M.B. Church, where he met Roberta Martin in 1933 and became a member of the church’s Junior Choir the same year.