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

Daryl Coley Biography

Born on October 30th , 1955, Daryl Coley was born in Berkeley, California. At age 5, his parents separated. He has always believed that his mother influenced his choice of gospel music, pointing out how he learned to play the clarinet and piano.

As a child, in 1968, Edwin Hawkins recently published a contemporary arrangement of Oh Happy Day, which caught Coley’s attention. He then joined Helen Stephens and the Voices of Christ after hearing her sing in December 1969, aged 13.

While still in high school, he studied with Phillip Reader at the Castle Mont High School Choir. Reader’s effect on Coley was so profound that it influenced him even in his studies. His career didn’t begin until he started playing organ for the Eddie Hawkins Singers. He later performed the role of musical director, which had helped artists such as Tremaine Hawkins go solo.

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Daryl Cole deviated a bit from the mainstream secular music, singing in jazz clubs. He’s had so many high profile collaborations with artists like Phillip Bailey of Earth, Wind and Fire, Rodney Franklin and Nancy Wilson. His first solo album was released in 1986 under the title Just daryl. The album was a hit and was nominated for a Grammy Award. It was later re-released in 2006.

He released a few albums after his debut; he released It’s Right On Time which climbed to #3 on the Gospel charts; he followed this 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, while the singer was rejoicing in his newfound fame and stardom under Sparrow records, he began to fall ill and after being diagnosed by the doctor, he was revealed he had juvenile diabetes who later went blind. He lived the rest of his life struggling with this problem.

In the later years of his life, Daryl Coley 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, Medium that he used to talk to many ministers and interpreters. He was honored in January 2014 by BMI as part of their 15th annual Nashville Gospel Music Pioneers Awards 


At a very young age of five, Daryl had to suffer the pain of seeing his parents separate. His mother won custody and he and his siblings were raised by their mother, a very devout Christian.

He was brought up in a household with strong Christian beliefs, his mother had a strong musical influence on him. He then reaffirmed that at home there was gospel, classical and jazz music. He was married to Jenelle Coley and survived him by his three children, including his son ‘Te’ceion’. Later in life, with the consent and approval of the family, adopted Antonio Brooks as a godson and son.

Cause of death

In the early 90s, at the height 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 cells to produce energy.

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The condition caused him temporary blindness, he would continue to struggle with the disease for the next few years. At the end of his life, he remembered how he would wake up and be unable to control himself, unable to see past his feet.

Daryl Coley passed away on a Tuesday evening on March 15th, 2016. After succumbing to his long battle with diabetes He died in hospital very close to his family, who did their best to keep him comfortable. He died of kidney failure.

Fast facts

  • Daryl Coley opened up about his battle against homosexuality at some point in his life. A battle he says he overcame with the support of his family and Christian friends.
  • His wife Jenelle was both his agent and his manager.