By others' standards, Lillian Lilly lives a simple, happy life. But by her definition, her life and musical mission have been marvels, if not small miracles. Born Lillian Jointer in Wesson, Mississippi, Lilly has been singing since the age of six. She recalls, "I'd sit up at night and dream of being a professional singer. That was my dream." The middle child of thirteen children, Lillian and her twin sister, Carolyn, began singing duets in local churches during elementary school. "My mom and aunt were called The Two Star Singers, so my sister and I called ourselves The Two Star Juniors."
During Lillian's teen-age years, The Two Star Juniors expanded and became known as The Traveling Stars. The reason for the change in name was that the group was going to start traveling all over the country. "But we only sang one service outside Mississippi - in Flint, Michigan," Lillian said. The group eventually broke up as the members got married. Lillian wed her high school sweetheart, Waldo Lilly Sr.
In 1973, Lillian again raised her voice for praising God's name, as she was now a mother and a singer. On weekends, she sang solos across Mississippi and Louisiana. At the same time, she worked 19 years, in nearby Brookhaven, at a lawn mower factory. For the next decade, she continued to sing at Mississippi and Louisiana churches on weekends and opened concerts promoted by Leon "Pop" Williams (father of gospel pioneer Frank Williams) in nearby McComb, Mississippi. "I used to open a lot of concerts for him when the big acts would come in - The Jackson Southernaires, The William Brothers, Slim & The Supreme Angels, The Mighty Clouds Of Joy…"
In 1988, Frank Williams formed Malaco's Mississippi Mass Choir and signed up Lillian as an original member. Lillian went on to become a principal vocalist on all five widely successful albums by the Grammy-nominated choir and sang lead on many of its hits. In 1993, the lawn mower factory closed and the choir became Lillian's job. In addition to touring as a soloist, she remains a principal vocalist for the choir. Her son, Waldo Lilly Jr., follows in her footsteps. He sings in the Mississippi Mass Choir and performs a duet with Lillian, Holy City, on the choir's album; I'll See You In The Rapture.
Her largest personal achievement came when she became the first solo recording artist to break out from the world's Number 1 Mississippi Mass Choir. Critics and fans continue to rave about Lilly's powerful vocals. "It's just now beginning to sink in," the long time Mississippi Mass lead singer said, "But I guess I'm a person who always has hope."
- Press Photos
- Click on a Photo to Download