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Willie Louise Richardson: Richard Smallwood's 'Total Praise'

Pastor Willie Louise Richardson died Feb. 12 at the age of 71.
Pastor Willie Louise Richardson died Feb. 12 at the age of 71.

More than 500,000 people have died in the U.S. from COVID-19 since the pandemic hit this country and the world just over a year ago. NPR is remembering some of those who lost their lives by listening to the music they loved and hearing their stories. We're calling our tribute Songs Of Remembrance.


My mother passed away from COVID-19 on Feb. 12, 2021, and she loved gospel music. One of her favorite worship songs was "Total Praise" by Richard Smallwood because of the lyrics and the musicality. My mother was a piano teacher, a singer, a songwriter and a true worshiper. She loved the Lord and introduced gospel music to so many. It has only been a little over two weeks and I miss her dearly, but when I hear "Total Praise," it comforts me.

"Total Praise" reminds me of my mom teaching my sister and I how to harmonize. My mom was a woman of excellence and when I couldn't recall a note (she taught me how to sing at the age of 2) and she would sternly but lovingly play the note on the piano until I got it right! —Jacqueline Peebles, daughter

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