Marvin Jerome Yancy
Born: 01/01/1950 in Chicago, IL
Died: 1985

Marvin Yancy was enjoying his biggest gospel record as Reverend Marvin Yancy with "Heavy Load" when he died suddenly. The pastor of the Fountain of Life church on Chicago's south side, Yancy was the son of a minister and born into a musically inclined family. His mother was a great singer. He studied at the Chicago Baptist Institute and the Mooney Baptist Institute of Theology. When gospel greats like James Cleveland and Jessy Dixon would come to Chicago, Yancy would accompany them on piano. Meeting Chuck Jackson at the turn of the '70s was the impetus to take Yancy into secular, commercial music. During an Operation Breadbasket (now PUSH) expo, Yancy was backing legendary gospel group the Caravans. After the show, Jackson approached Yancy about co-writing eight songs for Aretha Franklin. Nothing happened with the songs, but it did start the pair's collaboration. Having heard from a friend about Jerry Butler's Songwriters Workshop, Jackson invited Yancy to it. Financed by Chappell Music, the workshop offered Jackson and Yancy paid positions as songwriters, with the resulting songs published by Chappell. An unusual arrangement.
The two started a group called the Independents, who scored two hits for Wand/Scepter Records, "Just As Long As You Need Me" and the million-selling "Leaving Me" (number one RB, May 19, 1973). Among record company squabbles, the group broke up. Jackson and Yancy wanted to continue writing and producing. Later, their manager Bob Schwaid was visiting his friend, artist manager Kevin Hunter, in New York, when Hunter said that he was looking for songs for a female singer, Natalie Cole, he'd just signed. Going back to Chicago, Cole met with Jackson and Yancy to see if they could all work together. The trio hit it off and began working at Curtis Mayfield's Curtom studios at the end of 1974. Turned down by every label, Cole finally gained the interest of Capitol Records executive Larkin Arnold through demos done with Jackson and Yancy.
Jackson and Yancy wrote Cole's first hit, "This Will Be," at the end of sessions done for Arnold, just as he and Cole were about to leave town. The single went to number one RB on October 4, 1975. More number one RB singles followed: "Inseparable," "Sophisticated Lady (She's a Different Lady)," "I've Got Love on My Mind," and "Our Love." The trio earned gold and platinum albums with Inseparable, Natalie, Thankful, Unpredictable, and I Love You So. They wrote and produced hits for Ronnie Dyson, "The More You Do It" and "Don't Be Afraid." Later, Cole and Yancy married, had a son, and divorced.
Returning to Chicago, Yancy pastored his late father's church and recorded a handful of gospel albums, until 1985 when he suffered a fatal heart attack at age 34. ~ Ed Hogan, All Music Guide




Marvin Yancy's mother

Gospel music pioneer Ann Yancy was born on October 29, 1930 in Memphis, Tennessee. Yancy is a product of a deeply religious family, which includes uncles the Reverends Morris and Henry Edmonds; her brother Rev. Samuel Jordon; and her cousin Rev. Daniel Edmonds, all of Memphis, Tennessee.

Yancy is the fourth of seven children born to Leah Edmonds and Elijah Rhodes of Lucy, Tennessee. Yancy graduated from Manasses Elementary School in Memphis, Tennessee. The family moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1942, where she resided until 1943, when she moved to Gary, Indiana with her aunt Lassie Blair. Yancy attended Froebel High School and returned to Chicago in 1945.

Yancy's vocal talents were recognized at the age of eight while singing in the junior choir at Pearly Gate Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, where she later became a member of the Sunshine Band.

In 1948, Yancy married Rev. Robert Yancy, Associate Pastor of Greater Harvest Missionary Baptist Church. Widowed in 1973, Yancy is the mother of eight, three are ministers, Reverends Kevin, Darryl and the late Rev. Marvin J. Yancy, Derrick, Stevie, Sherwin and Judy Yancy. Her son, Rev. Kevin Yancy, was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1980 for producing the Gospel album Rev. Marvin J. Yancy and The Fountain of Life Joy Choir. Reverends Marvin and Kevin Yancy were writers and producers of the Grammy Award nominated gospel recording, Heavy Load in 1985.

Yancy is an intricate part of the rich tapestry of Chicago Gospel music history. She was one of the lead soloists at Greater Harvest Missionary Baptist Church, and a member of the renowned, Sylvia Boddie Gospel Singers. She traveled throughout the United States with R.L. Knowles, The Robert Anderson Singers and Willie Webb and the Roberta Martin Singers. She has appeared on recordings with the Robert Anderson Singers, the Roberta Martin Singers and The Yancy Family Album. Yancy is the founder of The Marvin Yancy Scholarship Foundation, and is a frequent speaker at Gospel conferences and seminars on the history of Gospel music.

Affectionately know as "Mama Yancy", Yancy is the grandmother of twenty-three and great-grand mother of nine.

Yancy was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 13, 2007.



Marvin Yancy married Natalie Cole sometime in the 70's  the marriage later ended in divorce.


Natalie_Cole - Natalie Cole and her ten month old son on stage.

Natalie Cole and her ten month old son on stage.

Natalie Cole, daughter of the late Nat King Cole, introduces her ten month old son, Robert Adam Yancy to the audience 8/15/1978 during Miss Cole's sold out engagement at the Universal Amphitheatre. Miss Cole in introducing her son, was quoted as saying, "I'd like you to meet the fruit of my labor."

Natalie Cole - Smile

Natalie Cole - Unforgettable

Natalie Cole & Marvin Yancy

another photo


Natalie Cole and her son Robert Adam Yancy (2004)