American gospel icon EUGENE SMITH has died, aged 88.
The baritone became a sensation in his native U.S., singing for churchgoers on the south side of Chicago, Illinois.
He was selected at age 12 by Roberta Martin - the minister of music at the city's Mount Pisgah Baptist Church - to be one of the original Roberta Martin Singers. They became a leading gospel group for more than three decades, recording for Savoy and Apollo Records and performing throughout the U.S.
Smith led vocals on several of the group's hits, including Saved, Satisfied and Do You Know Him; he also wrote gospel blues classic I Know the Lord Will Make a Way, Oh Yes, He Will.
Declining offers to start go solo, Smith later served as the Martin Singers' business manager and continued to perform with the group until Martin's death in 1969.
Smith died on Saturday (09May09). No further information regarding his death was released as WENN went to press.
He is survived by his son from a previous marriage, and a sister.