\nMATTIE B. COLLINS\nA Celebration of Life: A Legacy of Love\nA blessed life of strength, obedience and love\n\nMattie B. Collins was born May 7, 1932 in Shreveport, Louisiana to Willie Clark and Sallie Benjamin. She was an only child in a long line of Benjamin and Williams family members, who spent her early years on a farm, raised by her grandfather Willie Benjamin ‘daddy’, whom she adored. She accepted Christ at an early age and when asked, said in a Southern drawl, “I discovered at a young age that I loved singing for the Lord.” At age fourteen, she was sent to Los Angeles, California to live with her mother Sallie, who had relocated in search of work before World War II. Upon arrival in Los Angeles, Mattie attended Thomas Jefferson High, but in 1949 she left school to raise her first son Rick, and deferred her high school diploma, which she had always hoped to obtain. While there, she united with her mother Sallie at Cedar Grove Baptist Church. She began work as a seamstress in Downtown Los Angeles, where she worked until the factory closed in the late 1970’s. With determination and Faith, she opened Collins Creations -her very own home-based sewing business -providing sewing, tailoring needs, and custom-designed choir robes and travel bags. Always inspired by the creator, she designed a custom, durable wardrobe and garment bag for church members and choirs all over the city. Additionally, she was commissioned to make a custom travel bag for the late Ray Charles, members of his Orchestra, and for her daughter Renée and the Raelettes. The label sewn into all of her garments read, “Made with Love by Mattie Collins.” Mattie continued to sew until she lost dexterity at 82 years old. \n\nIn the 1960’s, she and her family united with St. Rest Baptist Church. She was a member for 30 plus years and served as a Sunday School teacher, senior and children's choir director, and a lead soloist. As choir director she encouraged, taught others to sing, and featured them during worship service. Mattie had a nurturing spirit. She was grateful to God for many things during her years of service there, but spoke with fond remembrance of the Easter Musical (The Resurrection) which she wrote, directed and produced annually at St. Rest. After leaving St. Rest, she became a member of Holy Light Baptist Church, where she served as a Songstress and Psalmist. By the mid-1980’s, she made Greater Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church her home where she was a faithful member and servant in three choirs, and sang well into her Octogenarian years. On any given Sunday, you could hear her belting out praises with a voice and range to rival the best of them, but she never sang for her glory. She always said, “The glory is the Lord’s.” \n\nOccasionally, she was a featured soloist during the radio broadcasts of Greater Ebenezer’s Sunday morning services. Mother Mattie loved the late Rev., Dr. Solomon L. Drake; wife Sister Isabelle Drake; and presiding Pastor DeNon A. Porter, his wife Sister Michelle Porter, and the entire Greater Ebenezer family. It was at GEMBC-LA where she developed a friendship with a fellow choir member, Girtha Bouie, who gave her rides to church when she needed them. Mattie and Girtha became prayer partners and sisters in Christ and kinship -maintaining a close bond and sisterhood. Mother Mattie enjoyed serving in many groups and ministries of the church. After Girtha relocated, Mattie began riding to church with Mr. Frank Harris, and the Compton Bunch ‘Comptonites’ (Essie Safford ‘Mother Hen’, Algertha ‘Bunchie” Rivers, Eileena Brown, Sherry Ferguson, Eddie McCaskill, Jo Ann Wade, and Helen Swayne-Lewis). Mother Mattie was passionate about volunteer work, especially her service with GEMBC-LA member Sister Ilsie Dixon, President of the Jr. Dixon Foundation’s Annual Walk-Thon and Health Fair. Although Mattie was an only child by birth, the friends, co-workers and church family that she met over the years became her brothers and sisters in Christ. \n\nIn a life of faithful service to God, and in a career of singing gospel that spanned 80 years, Mother Mattie Collins kept holding on. She enjoyed a mix of the old and new gospel, and was influenced by listening to singers such as, Mahalia Jackson (her favorite), Mattie Moss Clark, Dorothy Love Coates, Jessy Dixon, The Hawkins and James Cleveland. She enjoyed listening to Richard Smallwood in her later years. In 1962, Mattie arranged, recorded and released her first 45 RPM with The Charilettes, Moving Up the King’s Highway under Cla’Wel Records, Los Angeles, California. The 45 single received airplay and garnered success on the charts, selling over 500 copies locally in the first 2 days of release. This success was followed up by a second 45 RPM, this time with B&B Records, which featured Mattie’s arrangements of I Got Jesus and That’s Enough and I Love The Lord. In the early 1970’s, Mattie Collins recorded and released a debut album with The Soul Stirring Charilette Gospel Singers, which included her mother Sallie, and daughters Anita and Renée. For more than 40 years, she ministered through what became known as her signature song, Holding on to my Faith (also her motto) with The Charilette Gospel Singers, which she founded in 1962 -the year her daughter Anita was born. The Charilettes name was born out of Mattie’s goal and mission “To sing and perform charitable works, minister to the sick, and the poor; and to spread a message of hope to the least among us through song." The Charilettes rehearsed every Wednesday evening in her home, and in 30 plus years they only missed two rehearsals, including the one time when Mattie gave birth to Anita. It is said that her neighbors grew accustomed and looked forward to the sounds that resonated weekly from her home. By age twelve, and with very little formal training, her daughter Anita learned to play by ear and became the groups pianist. She accompanied her mother and The Charilettes for 35+ years. After the group disbanded, she continued to play for Mattie at churches all over the city until 2020. Mattie always referred to Anita as her “Ram in the bush." \n\nMother Mattie’s vintage sound can be heard through an original gospel song she wrote and recorded in 1983 with the late producer Horace ‘Papa’ Beasley titled, He's Coming Back Again. Mattie is heard narrating an introduction she wrote, and singing lead on this poignant labor of love. Daughter Anita Birt, pianist and co-writer of the song, was 18-years old at the time of the recording. “I will never forget how hard my mom worked to record He's Coming Back Again on her sophomore album Rain Down Fire, which included several original songs, arrangements and collaborations with my sister”, said daughter Renée. The song aired on local radio shows of Mattie’s long time friends/hosts Dr. Prez Blackmon, and the late Gloria Jean Bell of Los Angeles, California. The Charilettes traveled to churches, prisons, nursing homes, and performed at hundreds of gospel concerts and programs from 1962 into the 2000’s in one form or another. Some of the groups’ early performances landed them on programs that included headliners Shirley Caesar, James Cleveland, and the Mighty Clouds of Joy to name a few. Mattie Collins and the Charilette Gospel Singers, with sister group the late Mother Stewart and The Stewart Singers, were the premiere women's groups near and far in the L.A. gospel arena. The Charilettes were committed, and their fellowship through singing resulted in life-long friendships that endured. In addition to recording, the 1980’s also ushered in a new career for Mattie as a Family Car lead driver, attendant, and vocalist for the Ashley Grigsby Mortuary, in Los Angeles, and the former Simpson Family Mortuary (now Grace Memorial Chapel) in Inglewood, CA. \n\nGod, gospel music, people and food were always in her home. Her Sunday dinners, fried chicken, holiday dinners, and Taco Night were legendary. She loved to cook, socialize, and provide God’s word for the soul. Mother Mattie was a humble servant who was grateful to have received many awards and certificates acknowledging her contributions and achievements for her life and service in gospel music. Here are a few of note: In 1985, Mattie and The Charilettes received The Mayor’s Certificate of Appreciation from the first Black Mayor of L.A. (the late Tom Bradley) in honor of their 23rd Anniversary at Brookins A.M.E. Church, recognizing their “Outstanding efforts and accomplishments which have been of great benefit to your community and particularly to the City of Los Angeles.” In 1998, The Mission Chorus of Greater Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church recognized her as an “Outstanding African American and A Legendary Christian Achiever” in honor of National Black History Month. In 2005, she was celebrated as a “‘Women of Faith’ Luncheon Honoree’, by The County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors (Yvonne B. Burke, Supervisor, Second District). She also received a Certificate of Recognition from the City of Compton, “For her achievements in life, commemorating her 90th birthday on May 7, 2022” signed by Mayor Lula Davis Holmes.\n\nNo matter the challenge or triumph, Mother Mattie kept joy and forgiveness in her heart and home. She was a praying woman of God, who sat at the kitchen table every morning to read and study the Holy Bible. She shared her smile, love of God, cooking and gospel singing with everyone she met. Like many, Mattie endured divorce; held it together as a single mother, and weathered many storms with determination, support, prayer and most of all, undying faith. She was proof that with God, all things are possible. At age 70, she took her first flight over the Atlantic to Paris, France with two of her daughters. In 2022, she celebrated her 90th birthday with a Drive-By event, a Certificate from the City of Carson, and a tribute video, which included messages and well wishes from family and friends across the U.S. and overseas. She lived a full life, always grateful to God for her health and strength. She would say, “Thank you Lord, for keeping me in my right mind” even through cancer. One of the last things she said was, “I just have to stay focused on the Lord.” “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” - Psalms 23:1-6\n\nMattie Collins, took her last breath early Monday morning at 1:10 A.M. on March 27, 2023. She passed peacefully at home in Carson, California, steadily holding on to her Faith in God. It is what brought her from a mighty long way. She believed that God kept her here for 90 years, because he still had something for her to do. She was obedient, a talker, testifier, and a “Mother to the motherless” -always seeking to do His will by pouring into others. Her hospital stay and hospice journey were exactly seven days each (the number of completion), and in those number of days she traveled with strength, grace and gratefulness, ministering and giving of herself until she was empty. Well done mother! You said, “God is going to heal me on this side or the other.” Well, He did. 🎤drop\n\nDearest Mother, we believe that, “To be absent from the body [is] to be present with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians. Thank you for teaching us so much over the years. We learned from your lessons of God, Faith, Family, Life, Music, Compassion, Charity and most of all Love, simply by watching you… Live! Rest with the angels. \n\nMother Mattie Collins is preceded in death by her parents, mother Sallie Benjamin-White-Harris and father James White of Los Angeles, California; and ex-husband Lee Roy Collins. She leaves four children to forever cherish her memory: Rick Kyle (Beverly) of Santa Monica, California; Kenneth L. Hewitt and Anita Birt of Carson, California, and Renée Collins Georges (DuPort Georges) of Bowie, Maryland. Two step-daughters: Portia Lee Collins of Granada Hills, California, Mary Ann Collins of Grand Prairie, Texas and Laura Dean Collins (preceded in death). Eleven grandchildren: Shanita Prince of Los Angeles, California, Kenneth Hewitt, Jr. of Los Angeles, California; Adrienne LaShé Hewitt of Arlington, Texas; Devin Hewitt of Las Vegas, Nevada, Alexis Hewitt of Texas, Alston Lee ‘Ali’ Georges of Bowie, Maryland, Michael Williams of San Fernando Valley, California (Yassuha), Curtis Williams of San Antonio, Texas, Danielle Williams of San Fernando Valley, California (preceded in death), Jason Collins of Tokyo Japan, and Reid Cowperthwaite of Denver, Colorado; Ten great-grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren; sister-in-Christ, Girtha Bouie; God-children: Pamela Blackmon-Kendle, Dana Ray, Krista Williams, Scott Cowperthwaite (Allison), Ernestine Phillips and Family, Rita Steel, Deacon Michael Verner, Derek Benton, Pamela Johnson, Dr. Earleen Parsons, Hoai ‘Maggie’ Riggs; J.J. Lindsey, and a host of relatives and friends.