Roger Bennett, prominent Southern gospel pianist for the legendary Cathedrals Quartet, co-founder and pianist for the Legacy Five, and loved son, husband, and father passed away on Saturday, March 17, 2007 at the age of 48.
Roger started with the legendary Cathedrals in 1979 as a young, nervous piano player, and aside from a short sabbatical from the group in the eighties, he remained with the group for twenty years. Following the retirement of the Cathedrals, he along with Cathedrals baritone Scott Fowler founded Legacy Five, a fine group in the Cathedral tradition who remain one of the top Southern gospel quartets active today. During his time with the Cats and L5, he’d been awarded the Favorite Pianist award by Singing News readers numerous times. Roger was inducted into the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2006.
In 1995, it was discovered that he suffered from leukemia, the disease that ultimately took his life. However, he used the struggles with his illness as a means of ministering to people suffering similarly, and gave God the glory for the miracles in his life. He maintained a blog that chronicled his medical and ensuing spiritual experiences, which only deepened the relationship between him, his family, and his fans.
I first knew who Roger was through his association with the Cathedrals, my all-time favorite singing group and one of the classiest and best in their or any other genre. However, I enjoyed several occasions of chatting with him at the record table, where I learned that he was not only my brother’s age, but that he and I shared a birthday, March the 10th. And he was not only pleasant and kind to me, but to all who met him similarly, combining an engaging and entertaining stage performer with a genuine, warm, approachable person off-stage. I always appreciated that about Roger.
I hadn’t checked the Southern gospel world online this weekend, so I didn’t hear about Roger’s passing until a listener called in to my Sunday Morning Gospel program around 7AM yesterday to request L5’s “Strike Up the Band” in memory of Roger. Talk about knocking your feet out from under you! I used much of my remaining air time to play songs Roger had written and sung over the years, culminating with “Healing”. In the end, I couldn’t help but call to remembrance the scripture from I Corinthians 13:13…”And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (NKJ)” Roger’s faith in the Lord Jesus Christ would safely deliver him to heaven, his blessed hope, and his love remains with us for as long as his family, friends, and fans remember him.
Information on everything from visitation, funeral services, tributes, and memorial contributions may be found here.