Daryl Lynn Coley (October 30, 1955 – March 15, 2016) was an American Christian singer. At 14, Coley was a member of the nationally acclaimed ensemble Helen Stephens And The Voices Of Christ. He began performing with Edwin Hawkins in the Edwin Hawkins Singers and then worked with James Cleveland, Tramaine Hawkins, Sylvester, Pete Escovedo and others. Albums of his include Just Daryl, He’s Right On Time: Live From Los Angeles, When The Music Stops and others.
Coley was born Daryl Lynn Coley in Berkeley, California on October 30, 1955, spending his formative years in Oakland, California. His parents separated when he was five years old, with he and his two siblings being raised by his mother in a solid Christian home. Musically, Coley was first influenced by his mother. Daryl stated, “In my house there was gospel, classical and jazz. I had that kind of musical influence.” During his childhood, he learned to play clarinet and piano.
In 1968, when Edwin Hawkins released “Oh Happy Day“, the contemporary arrangement caught Coley’s ear. In December 1969, at the age of 13, Coley first heard Helen Stephens And The Voices Of Christ, and by February of the next year had become a member of the nationally acclaimed ensemble. During his high school years, Coley was a student of Phillip Reeder, Castleers choir director at Castlemont High School. Reeder helped Coley broaden his musical boundaries and even influenced him to advance to college. Coley’s career advanced further as he pursued studies in college; being a top student, working toward a business degree, and even assisting in teaching college courses. However, when things began to open up musically, Coley took a break from his studies.
Coley eventually began performing with Edwin Hawkins in the Edwin Hawkins Singers. He played keyboards for The Hawkins Family from 1977 until he left to collaborate with James Cleveland in 1983. Later, he served as musical director for Tramaine Hawkins when she launched her solo career. Concurrently, Coley branched out in secular circles, singing in jazz clubs, working with artists like Sylvester, Pete Escovedo, and others. He would later collaborate with jazz artists such as Nancy Wilson and Rodney Franklin, and pop artists such as Philip Bailey of Earth, Wind & Fire fame.
In 1986, Coley released his solo debut album Just Daryl, originally released in 1986 on First Epistle/Plumline Records. The album was nominated for a Grammy award, and was later re-released in 2006. After the success of “Just Daryl”, Coley moved to gospel stardom, releasing critically acclaimed albums highlighting his jazz-infused vocal stylings. In 1990, Coley released He’s Right On Time: Live From Los Angeles with Sparrow Records, climbing to the #3 spot on the gospel charts. His following album When The Music Stops, released in 1992, reached #1 on the gospel charts.
In 1991, when his albums released under Sparrow Records were achieving national success, Coley fell sick, experiencing flu-like symptoms. When he visited his doctor (more than two weeks later), he was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, which caused him temporary blindness. He continued to struggle with diabetes.
On March 15, 2016, Coley died in hospice care surrounded by his family. He was 60.