The Rance Allen Group

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The Rance Allen Group
OriginMonroe, Michigan
GenresGospel, Rhythm and blues
Years active1970–2020
LabelsGospel Truth, Stax, Bellmark
Past membersRance Allen
Thomas Allen
Steve Allen

The Rance Allen Group was a gospel music group formed in Monroe, Michigan, and based in Toledo, Ohio, named after its lead vocalist, Bishop Rance Allen.[1]

The group was formed by vocalist, guitarist, pianist, and songwriter Rance Allen (b. Monroe, Michigan) with his brothers Tom (drums) and Steve (bass guitar); another brother, Esau (percussionist), joined the group on an intermittent basis.[2]: 256  During an appearance at a gospel talent contest in Detroit, Michigan, they came to the attention of one of the judges, record promoter Dave Clark, who worked for Stax Records.[1][2]: 255–256  The group was the first to be signed to the Stax imprint Gospel Truth, and they recorded for the Stax organization throughout the 1970s.[1][2]: 256  In 1972, the group appeared in the documentary film Wattstax.[2]: 270  Following this appearance, the group was named "Best Religious Group" by the National Association of Television and Radio Announcers (NATRA).[2]: 272  David Porter co-produced the group's 1975 album A Soulful Experience, for which he wrote an autobiographical song, "Just Found Me".[2]: 363 

The group's incorporation of rock and soul into traditional black gospel music prefigured the crossover success of such artists as Amy Grant, Andrae Crouch, and The Winans.[1][3] In 1978, the group had a Top 30 R&B hit, "I Belong to You."[3]

The group received a nomination at the 34th Grammy Awards for Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album for their 1991 album Phenomenon.[4]

The group's latest release, God Has Been So Good, is a collaboration with hip-hop pioneer Glenn “Sweety G” Toby, producer Bernard Jackson and new gospel artist Mydason.

Rance Allen[edit]

Rance Allen (November 19, 1948 – October 31, 2020)[5] was an American Bishop, Minister, and gospel musician, and the founder and leader of the Rance Allen Group. Known for his extremely wide vocal range and powerful singing voice,[6] Allen became known as the main lead vocalist and the leader[7] of the influential group.[8]

He was the senior pastor of the New Bethel Church Of God In Christ in Toledo, Ohio, since its July 1985 establishment.[9] In November 2011, Rance Allen was elevated to the office of Bishop in the Church of God in Christ, for the Michigan Northwestern Harvest Jurisdiction.[9]

Allen was born in 1948 in Monroe, Michigan to Thomas and Emma Pearl Allen, to a family of African American, Afro-Caribbean, and Afro-Latino American heritage.[10][11] He had 11 siblings: six sisters and five brothers. Allen founded the Rance Allen Group in Detroit in 1969 joined by his brothers Thomas and Steve.[12]

Allen was married to Ellen Marie Allen (née Groves). The two were married on December 1, 1970.[13] The couple had no children together.

Allen and his group had performed with many gospel musicians throughout the country, including Andrae Crouch, Marvin Winans, Bebe and Cece Winans, the Clark Sisters, Kirk Franklin, Marvin Sapp, John P. Kee, Fred Hammond, Tye Tribbett, Shirley Caesar, Donnie McClurkin, Bernard Jackson Jr. and Mary McLaurine Glover.[5] He also performed for President Barack Obama at a White House Celebration of Gospel Music and was nominated for five Grammy Awards.[5]

Allen died on October 31, 2020 from complications due to a recent medical procedure. He was 71 years old.[5][14]


Year Award-giving body Award Reference
2012 Stellar Awards Quartet of the Year: "The Live Experience II: Celebrating 40 Years of Music and Ministry" [15]
Traditional Group/Duo of the Year: "The Live Experience II: Celebrating 40 Years of Music and Ministry" [15]


  • Rance Allen Group (1972)
  • Truth Is Where It's At (1972)
  • Brothers (1973)
  • Sanctified (1975; UK-only compilation)
  • A Soulful Experience (1975; reissued 1981 as Ain't No Need Of Crying)
  • Say My Friend (1977; reissued 1979 as The Way It Is)
  • Straight from the Heart (1978; reissued on CD with bonus tracks in 1994)
  • Smile (1979)
  • I Feel Like Goin' On (1980)
  • Hear My Voice (1983)
  • I Give Myself to You (1984)
  • The Best of The Rance Allen Group (1988) (Stax Records)
  • Phenomenon (1991)
  • Up Above My Head (1995 compilation)
  • You Make Me Wanna Dance (1995)
  • Let The Music Get Down In Your Soul (1997; vault release)
  • Miracle Worker (2000)
  • The Soulful Truth Of The Rance Allen Group (2001; UK-only compilation)
  • All the Way (2002)
  • Wattstax (various artists; box set) (2003)
  • The Live Experience (2004)
  • Closest Friend (2007)
  • The Live Experience II (2011)
  • Amazing Grace (2012)
  • Celebrate (2014)
  • Live From San Francisco (2016)
  • God Has Been So Good (2020)[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Hildebrand, Lee (1994). Straight from the Heart (Media notes). Rance Allen. Berkeley, CA: Fantasy Records. SCD-8589-2.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Bowman, Rob (1997). Soulsville, U.S.A.: The Story of Stax Records. New York: Schirmer Books. ISBN 0-02-860268-4.
  3. ^ a b Ron Wynn. Rance Allen Group at AllMusic
  4. ^ O'Neil, Thomas (1999). The Grammys. New York: Berkley. p. 517. ISBN 0399524770.
  5. ^ a b c d Kuehnlein, McKenzie. "Gospel legend Bishop Rance Allen dies at the age of 71". Retrieved 2020-10-31.
  6. ^ Willis, Fred (April 9, 2014). "There's no stopping the show-stopping Rance Allen Group at Jazz Fest". AXS. Retrieved 2014-04-09.
  7. ^ Hallman, Charles (February 9, 2017). "Legendary Rance Allen Group still stirring souls after all these years". MSR.
  8. ^ Patrick, Kris (February 27, 2013). "RANCE ALLEN HOLDS PRIVATE SCREENING OF NEW DOCUMENTARY "MUSIC MAJORS" – The Legend Celebrates 40+ Years in Gospel Music". Path Megazine. Retrieved 2013-02-27.
  9. ^ a b "Bishop Rance Allen Bio". The Rance Allen Group. Retrieved 2012-12-03.
  10. ^ Genzlinger, Neil (2020-11-13). "Rance Allen, Frontman of a New-Sounding Gospel Group, Dies at 71". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-11-15.
  12. ^ "The Rance Allen Group Story". The Rance Allen Group. Retrieved 2012-12-03.
  13. ^ "Ellen M. Allen Biography-New Bethel Bountiful Blessings COGIC". Retrieved 2012-12-18.
  14. ^ Alaa Elassar. "Gospel legend Bishop Rance Allen dies at age 71". CNN. Retrieved 2020-11-01.

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