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Died: Buryl Red, Baptist Composer Who Paved Way for Chris Tomlin and Modern Worship

Creator of ‘Celebrate Life!’ and 'In Remembrance of Me' brought drums (among other things) into churches.

Buryl Red, whose pioneering compositions changed church music for Southern Baptists and influenced many other evangelical groups, died Monday after suffering from cancer, Associated Baptist Press reported. He was 77.

The conductor of the Southern Baptist's men's chorus, The CenturyMen, and composer of several 20th-century church music favorites, Red paved the way for today's worship leaders, said LifeWay Worship's Charlie Sinclair. He wrote:

Buryl Red was one of the first churchmen to introduce the rhythm section and the orchestra to Southern Baptist Churches in the late sixties and early seventies. He was a pioneer church musician who thought that guitars and drums and almost anything else that could be played had a place in the sanctuary next to the pipe organ. He loved virtually every style of music as long as the presentations of it reached a level of excellence befitting the glorious Savior we love.

Red was best known for his collaborations with Ragan Courtney, including the 1970s pulpit-musical "Celebrate Life!," which sold about a million copies in 25 years, according to Courtney. The composer-songwriter duo also created "Brand New Wings" and "In Remembrance of Me."

The CenturyMen's website boasts his accomplishments, saying:

His musical works as a composer, conductor, producer and arranger heard in such diverse venues as Carnegie Hall, "Saturday Night Live" and thousands of schools, churches and theaters around the world.

He had more than 1,600 published compositions and arrangements, produced more than 2,500 recordings and supervised, composed or arranged the music for several hundred shows, documentaries and musical specials for network and cable television.

Red studied church music at Baylor University and Yale University.

"Buryl Red's influence on the field of church music has been significant, and Baylor is proud of his many contributions, in particular his musicals from the 1970's that set the standard for this genre," said Randall Bradley, director of Baylor's Center for Christian Music Studies, which honored Red with a leadership award in 2007. "When the history of the last half of the 20th century is written, Buryl Red is a name that will surely appear."

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Posted:April 2, 2013 at 5:39PM
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