Obituaries: Rev. Timothy Wright, John Alton Baker, Marilyn Cooper and Malcolm Walls Sr.

Grammy-nominated gospel singer the Rev. Timothy Wright died April 23 at the age of 61. A 2008 car crash which killed his wife and grandson had left Wright paralyzed from the neck down and in bad health.

Wright was the pastor at Grace Tabernacle Christian Center Church of God in Christ in Brooklyn, N.Y. He released more than a dozen gospel recordings, writing many of the songs. His latest album, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, came out in 2007. He was nominated for a Grammy in the category of best traditional soul gospel album twice, in 1994 for Come Thou Almighty King and in 1999 for Been There Done That, recorded with the B/J Mass Choir and featuring Myrna Summers.

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John Alton Baker, a.k.a “Jonny Seww,” died of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) March 20 at his home in Orangeville, Ontario. He was 62.

Baker was a member of the Maine-based garage band The Delrays in the mid-’60s. More recently he produced a music CD, Jonny Seww Plays And Sings for ALS & PALS, to raise money for the ALS Society of Ontario.

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Marilyn Cooper, a Broadway character actress best known for her Tony-winning performance in the musical “Woman of the Year,” died April 22 after a long illness. She was 74.

Cooper was a chorus member in the original Broadway casts of such classic musicals as “West Side Story” and “Gypsy.” She made her Broadway debut in the 1956 Sammy Davis Jr. musical “Mr. Wonderful.” In 1981 Cooper won a Tony Award for her performance in “Woman Of The Year,” largely for her duet with Lauren Bacall.

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Malcolm Carl Walls Sr., credited with helping expand the Mississippi Delta Blues and Heritage Festival, died April 20 at age 60.

Walls, who was also a former director of the Mississippi Action for Community Education (MACE), took over the blues festival in 1979. He moved it from a flatbed truck in a rural community to a site in Greenville, equipped with a stage, lighting and vendors.

MACE still sponsors the September event that draws thousands of blues fans from around the world.

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