Donald Vails

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Donald Vails
Birth nameDonald Raymond Vails
Also known asRev. Donald Raymond Vails, Jr.
Born(1948-12-25)December 25, 1948
Atlanta, Georgia
DiedSeptember 10, 1997(1997-09-10) (aged 48)
Detroit, Michigan
Genresgospel, traditional black gospel, urban contemporary gospel
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter
Instrumentsvocals, piano, singer-songwriter
Years active1977–1996
LabelsSavoy, Sound of Gospel
Associated actsThe Choraleers

Reverend Donald Raymond Vails, Jr. (December 25, 1948 – September 10, 1997), was an American gospel musician and pianist. He started his music career, in 1977, with the release, Donald Vails Choraleers, that was released by Savoy Records. He would release sixteen albums with two labels, Savoy Records and Sound of Gospel. Vails released five albums that charted on the Billboard magazine Gospel Albums chart, He Promised a New Life in 1984 with Savoy Records, 1986's Yesterday, Today and Forever with Sounds of Gospel, 1987's Until the Rapture again with Sounds of Gospel, In Jesus Christ I Have Everything I Need in 1990 also with Sounds of Gospel, and 1994's A Sunday Morning Songbook with Savoy Records. The album, He Decided to Die, was a Grammy Award-nominated release, and it was certified as a gold album by the RIAA.

Early life[edit]

Vails was born on December 25, 1948 in Atlanta, Georgia as Donald Raymond Vails, Jr.,[1] whose parents sent him to a nursery school at Gospel Choral Union, and this instilled in him a love of gospel music and the piano.[2][3] He was reared in the church in his hometown at Mt. Zion Baptist Church.[2][3] He was leading a choir by age twelve, and after high school, as an eighteen-year-old relocated to Detroit, Michigan to pursue a degree in engineering at Detroit Institute of Technology.[2][3] While he was doing this, he formed The Choraleers in 1969.[2][3] Vails relocated to Washington, D.C. in 1985 in order to attain a Master's Degree in Music at Howard University.[2][3] During this time, he became a member of Ebenezer AME Church located in Fort Washington, Maryland, and this caused the churches choir to grow from 40 to 175 participants in the span of a couple months time.[2][3] He established, Salvation Corporation, during his time in D.C., which was an 80-member interdenominational choir.[2][3]

Music career[edit]

He began his recording music career in 1977, with the release of Donald Vails Choraleers with Savoy Records.[4] His sixteen albums made the Billboard magazine Gospel Albums chart, for five of those releases.[5] Those releases are the following; He Promised a New Life in 1984 with Savoy Records at No. 32,[4][5] No. 17 for Yesterday, Today and Forever with Sound of Gospel in 1986,[4][5] 1987's Until the Rapture at No. 11 with Sound of Gospel,[4][5] In Jesus Christ I Have Everything I Need again with Sound of Gospel in 1990 peaking at No. 26,[4][5] and 1994's A Sunday Morning Songbook at No. 33 with Savoy Records.[4][5] They would achieve a gold album certification by the RIAA and a Grammy Award-nomination for their 1990 album, He Decided To Die, with Savoy Records.[2][3]

Personal life[edit]

Vails was married to Janine Vails (née, Anderson) at the time of his death on September 10, 1997, from a lengthy illness in Detroit, Michigan, who was survived by two children, Brian and Carmen.[1][3]


List of selected studio albums, with selected chart positions
Title Album details Peak chart positions[5]
He Promise a New Life 32
Yesterday, Today and Forever 17
Until the Rapture 11
In Jesus Christ I Have Everything I Need 26
A Sunday Morning Songbook 33


  1. ^ a b Flack, John (August 2, 2009). "Rev Donald Raymond Vails, Jr". Find a Grave Memorial. Retrieved April 6, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Carpenter, Bil (2005). "Uncloudy Days: The Gospel Music Encyclopdia": 421–22.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Donald Vails". Malaco Records. Archived from the original on April 12, 2015. Retrieved April 6, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e f AllMusic. "Rev. Donald Vails : Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved April 6, 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Billboard. "Rev. Donald Vails : Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved April 6, 2015.

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