Bishop Rance Allen, Preacher and Gospel Legend, Dead at 71

Bishop Rance Allen, iconic preacher and gospel music legend, has died at the age of 71. Allen was most well-known for founding The Rance Allen Group, a gospel music group that began in the 1970s and featured Allen's brothers Thomas Allen and Steve Allen. In a joint statement posted to Facebook, Allen's wife, Ellen, and manager, Bryant Scott, shared the sad news of his death.

"While recovering from a medical procedure at Heartland ProMedica [in Sylvania, OH], Bishop Rance Allen passed away around 3 AM this morning," the statement read. "I wasn’t expecting to hear this news this morning," added Tyscot Records President Bryant Scott. This is a great loss to us personally but also to the church community at large." The Facebook post also stated that Scott "was nearly speechless upon hearing of the singer’s death."

Bishop Robert G. Rudolph Jr. of New Bethel Church of God in Christ in Toledo, Ohio — where Allen also served as a pastor — also issued a statement on Allen's passing. "Bishop Allen's unique vocal ministry was an indispensable sound within the Church of God in Christ and Christendom," he said. "His gift transcended the boundaries of musical genre as he remained a sought after personality called to perform on global venues." Rudolph Jr. added, "During this time of uncertainty, we request the continued prayers as well as acts of emotional and spiritual support for the family."

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The Rance Allen Group is widely cited as having been at the forefront of blending rock and soul music with traditional black gospel, ahead of artists like Andrae Crouch and The Winans. In 1978, the group had a Top 30 R&B hit with the song "I Belong to You." Most recently, Allen has collaborated with Hip hop pioneer Glenn "Sweety G" Toby, producer Bernard Jackson and new gospel artist Mydason for the song "God Has Been So Good."