Lonnie Riggins devoted his life to singing the praises of God, and today he may be performing a personal concert for Him.
Riggins, a beloved gospel artist on the local and national stage, passed away in Loris during the weekend at the age of 65. He was a lifelong member of Freemont Missionary Baptist Church in Longs, but was well-known for performing Sunday concerts at churches throughout the Myrtle Beach area and state.
His love for spreading God’s word in music propelled him onto a national stage, where his heartfelt message connected with the masses … as well as his fellow artists.
“I loved to hear him sing,” Priscilla McDonald, of the group The McDonald Sisters, from Fayetteville, N.C., said “You couldn’t sit in your seat when Lonnie Riggins was singing. Whether it was clapping your hands, waving your arms ... you just had to take part.
“He put his all into it. Everything he had, he put it all into it.”
Riggins had put his all into singing for more than 50 years, sometimes performing as Lonnie Riggins and the Freemont Travelers. He had performed with such nationally known groups as the Mighty Clouds of Joy, The Blind Boys, Shirley Caesar and the Sensational Nightingales.
He had recorded multiple records himself, able to devote the majority of his life to his music since partial blindness kept him from working a full-time job.
“Lonnie was an icon in gospel music,” said longtime booking manager Reggie Dyson. “He may not have won a Grammy award, but locally and statewise he was an icon in gospel music.
“He had a love for God, and if you have the love for God, then all good things come from it.:
Those who loved Riggins will honor him with a farewell musical from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at Freemont Missionary Baptist to establish a scholarship in his memory. The concert will follow a public viewing from 5 to 7 p.m.
Funeral services will be at noon Thursday at the church.
Riggins is survived by a son, Lonnie Riggins Jr., and two daughters, Vita Bowman and LaTonya Hughes.
Reach TODD GARVIN at 626-0307.