Gospel Community Mourns The Passing of Rodena Preston
Dr. Rodena Preston, sister of the late Billy Preston, renowned gospel musician and famed L.A. choir clinician, has died. The news of her passing was relayed on Facebook and followed by a host of tributes by friends and fans alike.
Of the news, gospel recording artist Brent Jones wrote, “Rodena Preston a true pioneer and soldier in the gospel music industry has passed !! This Diva was very Instrumental in advancing my career at the GMWA and as a whole! When people kicked the TP MOBB off the stage , this small anointed firecracker stood up for us. She epitomized the GMWA motto that said "everybody is somebody"! She had a way to make you and your music feel special, relevant and accepted! Rodena Preston : a queen , a star, a minstrel, a Minister of Music, a woman of God!”
Preston began playing the piano at the age of 3. She followed her mother, Robbie, to choir rehearsals and church on Sundays, and would not allow anyone to keep her from the piano bench with her mom. She was also an inspiration to her younger brother, Billy Preston to play the piano at an early age. She has played for churches in the Los Angeles area since the age of 11.
In 1973, while serving as pianist for the young adult choir at Church of Divine Guidance and from this choir, the Houston native organized the Voices of Deliverance. Their heart-warming rendition of The Old Rugged Cross won them the title of `Choir of the Year' in 1974. They signed with BeeGee Records and recorded five albums: The Old Rugged Cross; Peaceful waters;; 2nd Anniversary Album; There's Been A Change; and Holding On.
In 1972, Dr. Preston was appointed Chapter Representative of the Gospel Music Workshop of America (GMWA), founded by Rev. James Cleveland, before taking on the role as Minister of Music and coordinator of the National Mass Choir of the GMWA. A workshop clinician, she ravelled across the U.S. teaching and encouraging others in the gospel music field.
With her position with the Gospel Music Workshop of America, Inc., Preston approved all new music, as well as music by new songwriters, to be presented at GMWA Conventions (for Mass Choir, New Music Seminar and Youth Division. For many years, GMWA recorded with several record companies.
A leader of L.A.’s gospel community, Preston received a Doctorate of Divinity Degree from the Elbon Solutions School of Ministry in 2004. In October 2006, she was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall Of Fame in Detroit.