Shirley Caesar (born Shirley Ann Caesar, October 13, 1938, Durham, North Carolina) is an American Gospel music singer, songwriter and recording artist whose career has spanned six decades. A multi-award winning artist, with eleven Grammy Awards and seven Dove Awards to her credit, she is known as the “First Lady of gospel.”
She first began recording in 1949, at age eleven. Her professional adult career began when she was 18, when she approached Albertina Walker about joining The Caravans, one of the most popular gospel groups at that time.
She sang with the legendary late Queen of Gospel Dr. Albertina Walker, Dorothy Norwood, Inez Andrews, Delores Washington and James Cleveland while in the Caravans. She recorded and performed with The Caravans from 1958 until 1966, then she began pursuing a solo career and making a name for herself in the gospel music circuit.
After singing with the Caravans, she started her solo career, making guest appearances on the Bobby Jones gospel show and other popular television shows. She has performed with such performers as Patti LaBelle, Whitney Houston, Dorothy Norwood, Faith Evans, Dottie Peoples, Arnold Houston, Kim Burrell, John P. Kee, Kirk Franklin and Tonex, Tye Tribbett among others.
Caesar has released over 40 albums and participated in over 16 compilations as well as performed in three gospel musicals, “Mama I Want to Sing,” “Sing: Mama 2” and “Born to Sing: Mama 3.” According to Soundscan, she has sold 2.2 million albums since 1991. She is the recipient of the NAACP Achievement Award, SESAC Lifetime Achievement Award and was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.