New York Native, Chicago-Based Executive Worked With Queen Latifah and Big Daddy Kane As Well As Gospel Acts Such As Platinum-Selling Ensemble, Shekinah Glory Ministry

Bernie McLean, a retired music executive who was instrumental in the careers of many gospel and urban acts, has passed away at the age of 80. Aside from working promotions with artists such as Queen Latifah and Big Daddy Kane, McLean was also a key factor in the success of the platinum-selling worship music ensemble Shekinah Glory Ministry, known for gospel radio hits such as “Praise Is What I Do,” “Yes,” and “Jesus.”

Celebration of Life Services will be held Friday, June 14, 2024, at 11 AM at Valley Kingdom Ministries, 5300 West 151 Street, Oak Forest, IL 60452.

Bernard McLean was born June 6, 1943, in New York City to a Virgin Islands native, James McLean, and his American wife, Eugenia. Tall and slim, McLean played basketball at Aviation High School on Long Island where he graduated in 1961. He attended the New York Institute of Technology on a basketball scholarship and became a star player with the nickname MacFish. A 1965 Plains New York newspaper article reported that McLean, “captain of the team, is a 5’10” playmaking jump shooter…The 157-pounder led the varsity in scoring in each of his three seasons. In his senior year, he averaged 33.4 points per game, also chipping in with an average of better than 11 assists. McLean was chosen to 15 All-Opponent teams during his cage career.”

Mclean used to joke that, “I was doing the no-look pass before Magic Johnson,” about his quick court skills. He graduated in 1965 with an engineering degree and earned a second one at Adelphi University. McLean then went on to have a three-decade career at General Electric.

In the 1990s, McLean  transitioned into the music promotions and artist management field where he collaborated with a variety of urban acts such as  Yvonne Gage, Big Daddy Kane, Too $hort, Queen Latifah, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, and RUSSOUL.

During this period, an old friend from the corporate world, Apostle H. Daniel Wilson (a former business executive turned pastor of Valley Kingdom Ministries in Oak Forest, IL), was inspired to create what became the Shekinah Glory Ministry worship ensemble. After recording their first album of live praise and worship music, Wilson asked McLean to shop it to record labels. None of them could see the potential in a praise and worship album at the time, so Wilson founded Kingdom Records with McLean as its first promotions manager in 2001. McLean immediately put his skills to work as part of the team that pushed Shekinah Glory Ministry’s breakthrough song “Praise Is What I Do” to become a R.I.A.A.-certified gold album. The entity went on to score four other gold and platinum certifications for other projects.  He was elevated to Vice President and A&R Director in 2003. Some of the other artists he supervised during those years include the legendary R&B group The Whispers, worship leader Phil Tarver, Tonya Baker, and The Brown Sisters of Chicago. McLean retired in 2016.

McLean is survived by his wife, Linda, his daughter Tiffany, and his sons Phil and Ashaunte. He is also survived by grandchildren and extended family.

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