BEST GOSPEL SINGER (1998)
When the Chicago Bulls visited the Target Center this season for possibly the last basketball game Michael Jordan will ever play professionally in the Twin Cities, Minnesota Timberwolves officials wisely chose Eddie Robinson to perform the national anthem. Four minutes later, as Robinson strolled off the floor to a thunderous ovation from the crowd and players alike, it was clear that the song's lethargic cadences and difficult high notes were no match for the singer's awesome talent. As the music director of both the Minneapolis Community College Gospel Choir and the choir at He Is Risen Church of God in Christ in Minneapolis, Robinson can turn a simple melody like "Amazing Grace" into a celestial symphony; when he sings "Nearer My God to Thee," you get the impression that the Lord hears and believes every word. Possessed of enough firepower to climb to the top of the musical scale and hang a note there for 30 seconds or more, Robinson is also a master of the swooping low phrase. His testimony leaves no doubt that there is a higher power. The less devout can hear him as a featured singer in Lori Line's Pop Chamber Orchestra, or can pick up his new CD, From the Heart Volume 2. The rotund singer, who is nearly as wide as he is tall, has a diaphragm to die for; his spellbinding tone sounds as deep as a canyon. As the cliché goes, we'd pay to hear him sing the phone book--or better yet, the Bible.