Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Pastor Shirley Caesar: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert

NPR Music's Tiny Desk series will celebrate Black History Month with Tiny Desk (home) concerts featuring legends in the world of R&B, jazz, gospel, and hip-hop. Each artist in this legacy lineup has helped to define Black music as we know it and will be performing a Tiny Desk concert for the first time.

During a moment of testimony in her Tiny Desk (home) concert, Pastor Shirley Caesar declares, "I'm beginning to feel something moving on the inside." It is impossible to witness a performance from the "First Lady of Gospel Music" and there not be a moment where the spirit moves her to dance, punctuated — in true gospel fashion — by a band led by her longtime organist and music director, Michael Mathis.

As one of the most iconic figures in traditional gospel music, Pastor Shirley Caesar has amassed 18 Dove Awards, 14 Stellar Awards, 11 Grammys in addition to a Lifetime Achievement Award, and an induction into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. During her seven decades-long career, she has collaborated with fellow traditional gospel figures including Inez Andrews, Dorothy Norwood, Dottie Peoples, Milton Brunson, and her mentor Albertina Walker, as well as contemporary artists such as Kirk Franklin, Whitney Houston, Patti LaBelle, Anthony Hamilton, J. Moss and Tye Tribbett.

Pastor Caesar recently became familiar to those outside of the gospel sphere when an excerpt of her song "Hold My Mule" went viral in 2016, shooting the song to the top of Billboard's Hot Gospel Songs chart. For those hoping to hear "I got beans, greens, potatoes, tomatoes..." be sure to stick around to the very end of this Tiny Desk — Pastor Caesar has a treat for you.

With a vast discography, this set offers just a brief sampling of Pastor Caesar's music ministry, including 2016's "It's Alright, It's Ok," the 1989 classic "I Remember Mama," the charged "Armor of God" and "Take Your Knee Off My Neck," Pastor Caesar's response to the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.


  • "It's Alright, It's Ok"
  • "I Remember Mama"
  • "Armor Of God"
  • "Take Your Knee Off My Neck"

  • Shirley Caesar: vocals
  • Michael Mathis: musical director, organ
  • Criss Johnson: guitar
  • Willie Riddick: bass 
  • Aaron Meadows: drums
  • Ryan McCorkle: keys
  • Lisa Powell: vocals
  • Donald Gore: vocals
  • Avery Evans: vocals

  • Producers: Michael Mathis, Jonathan Anderson
  • Video Production: Benton L. Aladdin for TAG Studios
  • Camera Operators: Horace Hall, Nyla Carter, Rayshon DeLoach
  • Audio Engineers: Emmanuel Aluko, Reprondre DeLoach
  • Production Assistants: Quaford Coleman, Cherie Clinton
  • Executive Producers: Shirley Caesar, Carolyn Sanders

  • Producer: Bobby Carter
  • Video Producer: Joshua Bryant
  • Audio Mastering: Josh Rogosin
  • Tiny Production Team: Bob Boilen, Bobby Carter, Kara Frame, Maia Stern, Ashley Pointer
  • Executive Producer: Keith Jenkins
  • Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann
  • Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit

    Mitra I. Arthur