Very few gospel musicians can boast of having an audience beyond the often limiting niche of gospel music like Daryl Coley had.

Daryl Coley Biography

Born on the 30th of October 1955, Daryl Coley was born in Berkeley, California. At 5 years, his parents separated. He has always been of the opinion that his mother influenced his choice of gospel music, emphasising on how he learnt how to play the clarinet and Piano.

As a kid, in 1968, Edwin Hawkins newly released contemporary arrangement of Oh Happy Day, caught Coley’s attention. He later joined Helen Stephens And The Voices Of Christ after hearing them sing in December 1969, at the age of 13.

While still in high school, he studied under Phillip Reader at the choir at Castle Mont High School. The effect Reader had on Coley was so profound that he influenced him down into his college days. His career only kick-started when he began playing the organ for the Eddie Hawkins Singers. He later did perform the role as a Music director which helped artist such as Tremaine Hawkins go solo.

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Daryl Cole deviated a bit into mainstream secular music, singing at Jazz clubs. He had so many high-level collaborations which included artists such as Phillip Bailey of Earth, Wind and Fire, Rodney Franklin and Nancy Wilson. His debut solo album did come out in 1986 titled Just Daryl. The album was a success and was nominated for a Grammy award and it was later re-released in 2006.

He released a couple of albums after his debut; he released He is right on time which climbed up to #3 on the Gospel charts; he followed that up with his album When the music stops which peaked at #1 on the Gospel charts.

But his sweet life began to take a bitter turn when in 1991, as the singer was revelling in his new fame and stardom under Sparrow records, he began falling sick and after being diagnosed by the doctor it was revealed that he had juvenile diabetes which later spiralled into temporary blindness. He lived the rest of his life battling with it.

Daryl Coley
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Daryl Coley in the later years of his life became more involved in ministry where he co-hosted a radio show alongside Nancy Sellers in his native Bay Area titled God Said I Can, a medium which he used to speak to numerous ministers and performers. He was honoured in January 2014 by BMI as a part of their 15th yearly Trailblazers of Gospel Music Awards in Nashville.


At a very tender age of five, Daryl had to suffer the pain of seeing his parents get separated. His Mother won custody and he and his siblings were raised by their mother who was a very devout Christian.

He was raised in a home with strong Christian beliefs, his mother had a strong musical influence on him. He went on to reaffirm that in his home, there was gospel, classical and jazz music. He was married to Jenelle Coley and he was survived by his three children including son ‘Te’ceion. He later on in his life, with the consent and approval of family, adopted Antonio Brooks as their Godchild & son.

Cause of Death

In the early 1990’s, at the peak of his powers, Daryl was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes – a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Insulin is a hormone needed to allow sugar (glucose) to enter the cells to produce energy.

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The condition caused him temporary blindness, he would continue to struggle with the ailment through the coming years. During the tail end of his life, he recalled how he would wake up and wouldn’t be able to control himself, unable to see beyond his feet.

Daryl Coley passed away on a Tuesday night on the 15th of March 2016. After he succumbed to his long battle with diabetes. He died in the hospital very close to his family who tried their best to keep him comfortable. He died from renal failure.

Quick Facts

  • Daryl Coley opened up on his battle with homosexuality at a stage in his life. A battle he says he overcame with support from his family and Christian friends.
  • His wife Jenelle was at some point both his agent and manager.