Wednesday, May 20, a family spokesperson recently confirmed that Little Richard will be buried at Oakwood University, an HBCU in Huntsville, Alabama.
Richard died of bone cancer on May 9 in Tullahoma, Tennessee, at the age of 87 and will be laid to rest at the Seventh-day Adventist school’s Oakwood Memorial Gardens..
The iconic singer studied theology when he attended Oakwood University in the 1950s. The director of Oakwood Memorial Gardens, Gerald Kibble, said the ceremony will be private and not open to the public.
Richard enrolled in Oakwood College in 1957 to become a minister after rejecting the pop success that he’d established by his early 20s. The decision came when he was on tour in Australia and had a spiritual epiphany.
“One morning very early I received a phone call, preaching at the Australasian Missionary College,” Pastor J. B. Conley told Spectrum Magazine in an interview published earlier this month. Conley was a missionary in Australia in the 1950s. “And strangely, the phone call was from Little Richard asking if I could come to his hotel in St. Kilda Road and pray with him. I went along wondering what I would find.”
Richard described the moment when he decided to temporarily leave the secular music business in a 1962 article for Message magazine.
“The first things I wanted to be rid of were the badges of Little Richard — the expensive, showy jewelry, loud clothes, and crazy hairstyle,” he wrote. “I walked to the Bay at Sydney and consigned the jewelry to the Pacific Ocean.”
“The diamond rings were a repulsive symbol to me, and I obeyed my impulse to reject them then and there,” added Richard. “I have not been sorry. The rest was more practical, conservative clothing and a decent haircut restored to me a semblance of respectability and acceptability.”