Elgin blues and gospel singer who died of COVID-19 remembered as a pillar of faith
Elgin singer Annie Young, a woman of faith whose voice evoked comparisons to blues diva Koko Taylor and gospel great Mahalia Jackson, died Jan. 9 of COVID-19.
A faithful member of The Vineyard Church of Elgin, Young led The Annie Young Gospel Blues Band, which was among the top competitors in Suburban Chicago's Got Talent two years running.
The 67-year-old always had a smile on her face and God by her side, her sister Virginia Brown said.
"She was a prayer warrior. She would pray for anybody," Brown said. "If you were sick or needed something, she would pray for you."
Fellow congregant Joe Misek founded the band with Young in 2013 and co-wrote songs with her, including her signature number, "Jesus Can Heal the Pain," which was the title of the band's CD. In his blog tribute, Misek recalled Young showing him a folder stuffed with lyrics dating back to 1995. Brown says her sister had been writing songs since 1970 at least.
Misek described Young as a "powerful woman of God." The mother of two battled bronchitis, but the illness sidelined her only once. The group disbanded in 2017 on friendly terms, but Young continued to appear at faith-related events. She led a monthly chapel service at Wayside Cross Ministries in Aurora for participants in its rehabilitation program, said Vineyard pastor Tom Severson.
"She was really gifted," said Severson, "whether she was teaching, singing or speaking she was a triple threat."
"There was no one she didn't love," he said, his voice catching. "She saw the opportunity for Christ to touch them like he did her."
But music wasn't Young's only ministry. According to Brown, Young was three credits shy of a degree in social work when the pandemic hit.
"She loved doing God's work," said Brown, who believes her sister could have been an actress.
"I would say she missed her calling," laughed Brown. "She was so funny. I always said she could be a comedian. She could imitate anybody."
A native of Abbeville, South Carolina, Young moved with Brown and their parents to Evanston in 1960. After high school, Young moved to Detroit and eventually to Elgin, said Brown, who recalls her sister as a loving, spiritual person.
"She's gone but she'll never be forgotten," she said.