Elder Goldwire McLendon

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About Elder Goldwire McLendon

Elder Goldwire McClendon had spent some 70 years ministering as a singer and preacher when he came to the public's attention as a contestant on the third season of BET's Sunday Best television show, and while he finished as a first runner-up on the show, he earned, at the age of 81, a recording contract with Matthew Knowles' Music World Gospel label. McClendon was born in Jacksonville, Florida, the son of a pianist and a singer. He was singing in church by the time he was nine, and formed and sang in the gospel quartet the Cosmopolitan Gospel Singers at the age of 16, leaving the group a year later to relocate to Philadelphia. There he met his wife, Ruth, and together they formed the Savettes Choral Group to sing at various ministry events, outreach programs, nursing homes, prisons, and the like, releasing several independent albums as well. McClendon also sang in two other Philadelphia-based groups, the Brockington Ensemble and the Victory Choral Union. When his children were older, they began performing with their father as the McClendon Family. McClendon was ordained as a minister in 1967, becoming an Elder in 1978. After accepting a ministry in Georgia, he and his family returned to Philadelphia nearly two decades later. In 2009 he was honored by the city as "a Philadelphia Living Legend" in a class that included Chubby Checker, Billy Paul, Dee Dee Sharp, Bunny Sigler, and others. When Sunday Best's audition team hit Philadelphia, McClendon, then 79 years old, tried out and made the cut for the show's third season. His impressive performances on the show brought him a recording deal with Music World Gospel, which released McClendon's debut solo album, The Best of Elder Goldwire McClendon, featuring studio versions of the songs he'd performed on the television show, in 2012. ~ Steve Leggett

Jacksonville, FL

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