Richmond gospel singer who died of coronavirus complications used voice to uplift people around him

Local News

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Nathaniel Valentine, a Richmond gospel singer and well-known choir member at New Life Deliverance Tabernacle, died from complications related to the coronavirus.

Valentine, who would take the stage every Sunday to use his voice to uplift those around him, had to spend his 83rd birthday in the intensive care unit at VCU Medical Center. People who cared for him said you could always catch Valentine dressed well with a microphone in his hands.

“He was a young James Brown,” said Robert Winfree, pastor of New Life Deliverance Tabernacle. “He would slide across the floor and entertain people.”

Valentine traveled across the country on tour with famous R&B stars like Richmond’s own Major Harris. He fell on hard times but turned his life around by finding God and a family within New Life Deliverance Tabernacle.

“I had the opportunity to Skype with him and sing happy birthday to him while he was in the ICU,” Winfree told 8News.

Pastor Winfree coached Valentine through his last days. He said Valentine starting feeling sick after returning from a trip to Charlottesville. Valentine, who tested positive for COVID-19, was admitted to the hospital on March 21.

“He said it’s bad. So at that point he felt that he really wasn’t coming out of this one,” Winfree recalled Tuesday.

Valentine spent days in the ICU, not able to get his dialysis. Suffering from kidney disease, surviving 14 operations and beating cancer, Valentine fought the coronavirus as hard as he could. His longtime girlfriend, a VCU Health employee, suited up in protective gear so Valentine wasn’t alone as he transitioned on April 1.

“Even when his eyes were closed she was saying encouraging words like open your eyes, I need to see your pretty eyes again,” Winfree told 8News.

Pastor Winfree said the church is planning a memorial service for Valentine on Facebook. Once restrictions on gatherings are lifted, Winfree said they will hold a church memorial service to remember the man whose voice brought them so much joy.

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