Inez McConico better known as Inez Andrews was an American gospel singer, songwriter and recording artist. Her soaring, wide-ranging voice — from contralto croon to soul-wrenching wail — made her a pillar of gospel music. The Chicago Tribune stated that “Andrews’ throaty contralto made her low notes thunder, while the enormous range of her instrument enabled her to reach stratospheric pitches without falsetto” and that “her dramatic delivery made her a charismatic presence in church and on stage.”
McConico was born in Birmingham, Alabama, United States to Theodore and Pauline McConico. Her mother died when she was 2. Her father, a coal miner, was often out of work during the Great Depression. Andrews traveled a tough road to gospel stardom. She began singing as a child in church and began songwriting as a young mother in Birmingham. Andrews was working six days a week, ten hours a day for eighteen dollars a week, while “washing, ironing, cooking, keep up with the kids.
McConico started singing in the church as a child and performed gospel music on the road in various gospel groups from the 1940s before joining The Caravans in 1957. After a stellar career with the Caravans, she left the group in 1962 and had huge success with her crossover hit, “Lord Don’t Move the Mountain”. Andrews recorded on many labels since the 1950s and has many albums and hit songs to her credit, some of which she composed herself.
Fellow member from The Caravans in the 1950s, Shirley Caesar, once dubbed Andrews “The High Priestess” for her ability to hit high notes, and, in 2013, stated, “there never was and never will be another voice like Inez Andrews.”
She was referred to in 2012 by the New York Times as “the last great female vocalist of gospel’s golden age,” ranking among the likes of other music legends from the “Golden Era” of Black Gospel (1945-1960) – Mahalia Jackson, Marion Williams, Dorothy Love Coates, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Clara Ward. Inez McConico died on December 19, 2012 at the age of 83. She had been diagnosed with cancer months earlier.