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Gospel Singer Ray Myles Killed

October 12, 1998

NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ A man found dead of multiple gunshot wounds on a street corner was identified today as Raymond A. Myles, a popular local gospel singer recently praised by Billboard magazine as being on the brink of mainstream success.

Myles, 40, was lying on his back, bleeding and unresponsive, when a passer-by discovered him about 11:30 p.m. Sunday, New Orleans police Lt. Marlon Defillo said. He was dead when authorities arrived.

Police do not have a suspect or a motive for the killing, Defillo said. A search was under way for his sport utility vehicle, which was missing.

Myles, known for his high-energy shows, started his gospel career as a child, recording a single called ``Prayer From a 12-year-old Boy.″ The song, which urged world peace and an end to the Vietnam War, was a regional hit in the southern United States.

He and his choir the RAMS _ for Raymond Anthony Myles Singers _developed a huge following in New Orleans and toured extensively in the southern United States and in Europe.

Among Myles’ recordings was last year’s live album, ``Heaven is the Place.″ Billboard magazine called it ``a collection of sparkling originals and re-inventions of gospel standards.″

``After years as New Orleans’ best-kept secret, Myles seems poised for a major leap into the mainstream,″ the magazine said.

In August, he and the RAMS were on the bill at the Ben & Jerry’s Newport Folk Festival in Newport, R.I. He was also a regular at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

In 1992, Myles performed at New York’s Madison Square Garden in New York as an opening act for Harry Connick Jr. He and his group also had performed with Al Green, Patti LaBelle and Aretha Franklin.

When he wasn’t touring or recording, Myles was the choir director of Abramson High School in New Orleans.

``As one would expect, with a shocking loss such as this, our students are devastated,″ Principal Joseph Murray said.

Last month, Myles was among the performers at a wake for Johnny Adams, an acclaimed rhythm and blues, jazz and soul singer who died of cancer at 66. Accompanying himself on organ, the irrepressible Myles launched a number, ``How I Got Over.″ He playfully chastised the audience when the clapping wasn’t enthusiastic enough: ``I wish I had some church folks in here!″

He received the applause he demanded.

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