The Georgia & Nolan Payton Archive of Sacred Musicconsists of music, books, periodicals, documents, audio & visual materials, and oral histories. The primary goal of the Archive is to facilitate research and documentation of collections of African Diaspora sacred music (church music and religious concert music) created and/or performed by the multicultural population of Southern California.
Dr. Rodena Preston
Photo: Rodena Preston honored at the 2008 Living Legends Festival Concert.
LIVING LEGEND DR. RODENA PRESTON is a talent of the first magnitude. With music demurely provocative and superbly flattering, she declares, in no uncertain terms and with unrestrained audacity, the liberated Gospel that leads human kind to the glorious gateway of the abundant life.
Our Living Legend was born into a Christian musical family. She 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 1972, Dr. Preston was appointed Chapter Representative of the Gospel Music Workshop of America (GMWA), founded by Rev. James Cleveland. At the local level she leads its local ensemble in frequent appearances at churches throughout Los Angeles and surrounding areas. Aside from these duties, she is the coordinator of the National Mass Choir of the GMWA, workshop clinician and travels across the U.S. teaching and encouraging others in the gospel music field. In 1973, she was pianist for the young adult choir at Church of Divine Guidance and from this choir, she 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.
With her position with the Gospel Music Workshop of America, Inc., Living Legend Dr. Rodena Preston now approves 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). In 2004, WEIS Music Group was formed, taking its name from the motto of the Gospel Music Workshop ("Where Everybody Is Somebody). For many years, GMWA recorded with several record companies. Now with their own label, they have the vehicle to record and distribute the music of all of the choirs within the GMWA.
Dr. 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, Michigan.