Shirley Caesar (Born October 13, 1938) is an African-American gospel singer and Christian pastor.
Caesar was born and raised in Durham, North Carolina. She faced many obstacles in her youth, including racism, segregation, the death of her father when she was only eight years old, and the responsibility of caring for a semi-invalid mother.
Caesar began singing as a young girl in church. Although she was struggling in school, she remained determined, and continued with her education while developing her remarkable musical talent. She eventually graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing from Shaw University.
Caesar began her professional singing career by approaching the legendary "Queen of Gospel" Albertina Walker, founder and lead singer of the already world famous gospel recording group The Caravans in the mid 1960s. She convinced Ms. Walker that she was of age and serious about singing with the most popular female gospel singing group at that time, The Caravans. Albertina Walker & The Caravans gave Shirley Caesar many opportunities to be in the spotlight as lead singer, such as, on the gospel hit "Sweeping Through the City". In 1966 her solo career began to take flight as audiences learned of her soul-stirring voice. Some of her solo hits include "No Charge", "Jesus (I Love Calling Your Name)", "Rejoice", and "Stand Still".
Shirley Caesar is currently the Pastor of the Mount Calvary Word of Faith Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. She has won 11 Grammies, 17 Dove Awards, 12 Stellar Awards, and the Soul Train Music Award for Best Gospel Album. In 2000, the Gospel Music Association - which also annually hosts the Dove Awards - inducted her into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame at its headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee.
In 2005, she was honored by Oprah Winfrey at her Legends Ball.