‘Remarkable & intricate’: Richmond choir director dies after battle with cancer

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A man that many consider a Richmond gospel legend died yesterday after battling cancer. Larry Bland was a gospel choir director who was renowned throughout Richmond for his work with The Volunteer Choir.

The 67-year-old was diagnosed in August with stage four cancer.

Sheilah Belle said his life was captivating and he tied the community together through music.

“Anywhere that he performed, anywhere that he went… it was always excellence,” Belle said. “It was nothing less. He was a choir director, he was a great friend, he was a maestro. He was a man who wanted excellence. He was an artist in his own right in how he wanted things.”

“I don’t know anyone else, other than Larry Bland, who could do it like Larry Bland.”

Sheilah Belle

Bland inspired and uplifted those around him through his music.

“While he performed and the choir performed everywhere, any time they would leave the stage it was never enough. It was never enough,” Belle said.

Pastor Larry Miles, Sr., frequently worked with Bland and hopes his legacy lives on through the youth of today.

“Richmond has lost a legend. Richmond has lost a legend in Larry Bland.”

Larry Miles Sr.

“You miss the man, you miss the music, you miss the impact,” Miles, Sr., said. “The legacy that Larry Bland leaves for gospel music is more and greater than what he took with him in his death.”

Miles said that he is confident that Bland’s impact on gospel music in the city will never be forgotten.

“It doesn’t matter what city you were born in, it doesn’t matter whether you are Baptist, Pentacostal, Apostolic, Methodist, Catholic — it really does not matter. Whether it’s black or it’s white. Gospel music transcends all those barriers and it brings all of us together so I just love it,” Miles said.

To read more on Larry Bland’s legacy, visit The Volunteer Choir’s website.

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