Long before there was a Be Be and CeCe Winans or Kirk Franklin, the Rance Allen Group was making decidedly urban flavored gospel music, strategically designed to appeal to an unchurched black audience back in the early 1970′s. Their songs, such as “Just My Salvation,” “Ain’t No Need of Crying,” “I Belong to You”, and “I Got To Be Myself”, all classically fine examples of the foundation Allen’s group laid for the urban gospel artists who would follow two decades later.
One of a dozen children, Allen was born November 19, 1948, in Detroit and has been performing since he was five years old. He preached and sang early on and was called Little Rance Allen, the boy preacher. ”We were raised in a family where you went to church every single night,” Allen once told GospelFlava.com. ”To keep our interest, my grandmother went to a pawn shop and brought instruments, drums, guitars, and amplifiers.” In addition to the singing and preaching, Allen played piano and guitar.
Eventually Allen decided to start a gospel singing group. With older brother Tom on drums, younger brother Steve on bass, and Rance on guitar, the brothers recorded their first song for the Reflect label in Monroe, Michigan. In 1971, they won a Detroit talent contest where Stax Records promotion man Dave Clark was a judge. Clark liked what he heard and got them signed to Stax Records, R&B label in Memphis that gave birth to Otis Redding and Carla Thomas.