James Cleveland had great success as a gospel singer throughout his life. Thanks to Mariah Carey sampling his voice in her 2014 hit "Heavenly," he had a strong posthumous comeback that reminded the world of Cleveland's vocal power and soulful delivery. Cleveland had been hailed as "the King of Gospel," and with his unique singing style he brought elements of soul, pop music and jazz to traditional gospel stylings. The Reverend Dr. James Edward Cleveland was born in Chicago, Illinois on December 5, 1931. Cleveland began singing as a soprano, but when he strained his voice at an early age, it caused him to develop a deeper, distinct sound that would become his trademark throughout his career. Cleveland joined a group called The Gospelaires in 1950, and he went on to work for Roberta Martin and Albertina Walker, who had often been proclaimed the Queen of Gospel. (Walker encouraged Cleveland to take a big step in his career and record his first album.) In addition to the Gospelaires, Cleveland performed as part of an ensemble with The Gospel All-Stars, and The Gospel Chimes. Cleveland went solo in 1959, covering the Ray Charles classic "Hallelujah I Love Her So." Cleveland signed with Savoy Records in 1962, where he put out many albums that were largely recorded live. Other well-known Cleveland songs included "The Love of God," and "Peace Be Still." When Cleveland moved to Los Angeles, he performed with future soul star Billy Preston, as well as a number of gospel groups, touring all over the States. Cleveland also formed his own choir, The Southern California Community Choir. In addition to performing, Cleveland gave seminars in how to learn the true gospel sound on the Gospel Singers Workshop Convention, and well-known singers such as John P. Kee, Kirk Franklin, and Yolanda Adams all learned from him. Cleveland's biggest mainstream breakthrough came in 1972 when he was prominently featured as singer and pianist on Aretha Franklin's classic live gospel album <i>Amazing Grace</i>. Cleveland died on February 9, 1991 in Culver City. There were conflicting reports on his death; although it was officially determined that Cleveland died of congestive heart failure, persistent rumors claim that he succumbed to AIDS. During his lifetime, Cleveland was honored with four Grammy awards, and he was also given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2014 on Mariah Carey's album, <i>Me. I Am Mariah The Elusive Chanteuse</i>, Carey paid tribute to Cleveland with her song, "Heavenly (No Ways Tired/Can't Give Up Now)." The song's vocal hook is a sample of Cleveland's vocals, prominently featured throughout the song.