Julia A. Hall-kenton, Gospel Singer

July 11, 2009|By Frederick N. Rasmussen

Julia A. Hall-Kenton, who sang with area gospel choirs for more than 60 years, died June 26 of sarcoidosis, a rare autoimmune disease, at Stella Maris Hospice in Timonium. She was 73.

Julia Ann Johnson was born in Baltimore and raised there and in Towson. She was a graduate of Dunbar High School and worked as a seamstress.

Mrs. Hall-Kenton, an alto, was a youngster when she began singing with her siblings and an uncle, who were known as the Johnson Family Singers.

"They toured throughout the state and the Mid-Atlantic region," said a daughter, Bonnie McClellan of Baltimore.

Mrs. Hall-Kenton later became a regular performer with the choir on Heaven 600, a Baltimore AM radio gospel station, where she dedicated songs and wished listeners "blessed" birthdays.

Even though Mrs. Hall-Kenton had been diagnosed with sarcoidosis 40 years ago and later had breast cancer, she didn't let her illnesses interfere with her gospel singing.

Mrs. Hall-Kenton was a former longtime member of St. Matthew United Methodist Church and, since 1989, had been a member of Fulton Baptist Church, where she sang and was president of the Fulton Baptist Sanctuary Choir.

A Preston Street resident, Mrs. Hall-Kenton sewed many choir robes, wedding dresses and suits. She was known by her CB radio name of "Lady Super Stitch," family members said.

She was married more than 40 years ago to Leroy Kenton Jr., a retired Bethlehem Steel Corp. steel worker, who survives.

Services were held at her church July 2.

Also surviving are five sons, Anthony Coates of Middle River, and Van Sneed Jr., Michael Kenton, Mark Kenton and Edward Kenton, all of Baltimore; three other daughters, Leonora Rady of Reisterstown, and Edna Price and Terri Kenton, both of Baltimore; two sisters, Lydia Davis and Lorraine Dukes, both of Baltimore; 21 grandchildren; and 35 great-grandchildren. Another son, Leander Baldwin, died in the early 1980s. An earlier marriage to Claude Hall ended in divorce.

- Frederick N. Rasmussen

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