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Rance Allen, known as the ‘”Father of Contemporary Gospel Music,” died Saturday, The Church of God in Christ announced in a statement. He was 71.

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Allen’s death was also confirmed by his niece, Carla Mendez, The Monroe News reported. Allen had been suffering from some health issues and had been in a Sylvania, Ohio, hospital, according to a joint statement from his wife and manager, MLive reported.

Allen had been living in Toledo, Ohio, since 1989 and was the New Bethel Church of God bishop, according to WTVG. He was named a bishop at the church in 2011, according to the News.

“Bishop Allen’s unique vocal ministry was an indispensable sound within the Church Of God In Christ and Christendom,” The Church of God in Christ said in a statement. “His gift transcended the boundaries of musical genre as he remained a sought after personality called to perform on global venues.”

Allen played the piano and guitar and formed The Rance Allen Group with his two brothers in 1969, The Detroit News reported. The group was nominated for Grammy Awards in 1981, 1991 and 2004, and was inducted into the Gospel Hall of Fame in 1998, the newspaper reported.

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The group recorded more than 20 albums over five decades, fusing traditional gospel music with soul and rock ‘n’ roll, reported.

“I wasn’t expecting to hear this news this morning,” Tyscot Records President Bryant Scott said in a statement on the group’s Facebook page. “This is a great loss to us personally but also to the church community at large.”

In 2018 the group won Stellar Awards in the Traditional Duo/Chorus Group of the Year category for their recording “Live from San Francisco,” The Detroit News reported. The group also won a pair of Stellar Awards in 2012.

Allen was born in Monroe, Michigan, in 1948, and was a 1968 graduate of Monroe High School, The Monroe News reported.

He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Ellen Groves Allen.