Thomas R. Roberts, gospel singer and songwriter who performed in Baltimore and around the country, dies

Thomas “Tommy” Randall Roberts Sr., a gospel singer and real estate salesman, died of a heart disease July 19 at Gilchrist Center Baltimore.

The Owings Mills resident was 72.

Born in Baltimore, he was the son of Cleo Roberts and Lillian Lee.

He was a 1963 graduate of Dunbar High School, where he wrote a song for his graduating class.

He studied at Baltimore City Community College and Morgan State University.

He joined the Army and became a presidential honor guard. Family members said he once witnessed an early-morning visit by Robert Kennedy to the grave of his brother, President John F. Kennedy, at Arlington National Cemetery.

Mr. Roberts joined General Motors in Southeast Baltimore and worked on an assembly line. A member of the union, he rose to become vice president of local United Auto Workers 239.

He was active in writing music and founded TR Records Inc. He wrote songs, worked with artists as a producer and also recorded. He was known for his song “I’m in the Capable Hands of God” and performed it in Baltimore and at churches as he toured the country. His rendition of “America” was produced nationally by the UAW.

Mr. Roberts was a founding member of The Gospel Leaders and in 1967 helped form the Maryland Chapter of the Gospel Music Workshop of America. He was a past president of the American Gospel Music Heritage Foundation.

He performed alongside other gospel artists — including Rev. James Cleveland, Myrna Summers, Aretha Franklin, Shirley Caesar, Keith Pringle, The Mighty Clouds of Joy, Edwin and Walter Hawkins, Douglas Miller, Timothy Wright and Charles Nicks. He also sang at political and sports events, United Way campaign events and at United Auto Workers conventions.

He advocated placing a likeness of gospel music radio announcer and singer Pauline Wells Lewis in the Great Blacks and Wax Museum.

He later joined Coldwell Banker and won sales awards selling residential real estate.

Mr. Roberts was a former member of Cornerstone Baptist Church and Gillis Memorial Christian Community Church, where he served with the music ministry and oversaw the radio broadcast.

He enjoyed cooking, dining at restaurants and travel.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Church of the Redeemed of the Lord, 4321 Old York Road, where he was a member.

Survivors include his of wife of 20 years, Alice Marie Loving; a son, Thomas R. Roberts Jr., a daughter, Hope O’Neil; and five grandchildren, all of Baltimore.

— Jacques Kelly

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