CHICAGO (WLS) — Reverend Dr. Lena McLin, a Chicago icon and institution in the music industry, has passed away, her family confirms to ABC 7.
Famously known as the “the woman who launched a thousand careers,” McLin has worked with some of the biggest celebrities in the music industry, including Chaka Khan, Mandy Patinkin, Jennifer Hudson and R. Kelly to name a few.
McLin spent several years as a choir director at Kenwood Academy High School on Chicago’s South Side, inspiring hundreds of students over the years to be their best selves, stand tall and lift their voices.
Known for her no-nonsense demeanor, former-students recall her firm yet motherly approach in teaching and mentoring young adults. Many have referred to her as their second mom, someone they could lean on through life’s challenges.
McLin is the niece of Thomas A. Dorsey, known as the father of Gospel. She moved to Chicago to live with Dorsey when she was a young girl, being immersed in a world of music that would impact her life for nearly a century to come.
She went on to receive her Bachelor’s degree at the historic Spelman College. McLin would also go on to receive honorary doctrine degrees in Humanities from Spelman and Virginia Union University.
McLin has composed and arranged dozens of musical pieces, from classical to gospel works of art, garnering her notoriety not just in the states, but globally.
In 1981, Lena founded Holy Vessel Baptist Church in Hyde Park, becoming an ordained minister, and the head pastor, while also serving as the minister of music.
As the city of Chicago mourns such an iconic figure, people who know her best say she lived a full life of service, and her gifts to this world will live on forever in her music and the lives she has touched.
McLin died at the age of 95.
She leaves behind a daughter, son-in-law, 2 grandsons and 1 great-grandson.