Jessy Dixon, a singer and songwriter who introduced his energetic style of gospel music to wider audiences by serving as pop singer Paul Simon’s opening act, died Monday. He was 73.

Miriam Dixon said her brother died Monday morning at his Chicago home. She said he had been sick but declined to provide additional details.

During a more than 50-year career, Dixon wrote songs for several popular singers, including jazz and rhythm and blues singer Randy Crawford. He later wrote songs performed by Cher, Diana Ross, Natalie Cole and Amy Grant.

But it was for his gospel singing — religious music that combined the rhythmic beat of blues, jazz and soul — that Dixon first gained attention. It was during an appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1972 with his Jessy Dixon Singers that Dixon first came to Simon’s attention. For the next eight years, Dixon toured with the pop icon, collaborating on Simon’s ‘Live Rhymin’ Simon’ and ‘Still Crazy’ albums.

Dixon also played keyboard with Earth Wind and Fire and guitarist Phillip Upchurch.

Continue Reading on www.chicagotribune.com