Franklin Williams; Founder of Award-Winning Gospel Choir
Franklin Williams, 45, founder and principal singer of the acclaimed Mississippi Mass Choir gospel group. Williams, who formed the choir in 1988 and was its executive director, also was the principal singer of the seven-member Jackson Southernaires and since 1979 music director of the Jackson-based Malaco Records, a leading label for black gospel artists. Five weeks after the 1988 release of “The Mississippi Mass Choir Live,” the group’s first album, Billboard magazine listed it as the No. 1 spiritual album in the country. The album also reached the top of the Cashbox chart. It remained in the No. 1 slot of Billboard’s chart for 45 weeks, setting a record for gospel recordings. The magazine gave the choir, which has performed around the world, a special achievement award for the unprecedented feat. In Savannah, Ga., on Monday of a lingering lung infection and heart disease.