Many Musics of America

Gospel Music in Pittsburgh

In a tribute to Pittsburgh’s rich gospel-music history, the Alton Merrell Trio and the Heritage Gospel Chorale, under the direction of Herbert VRP Jones, will present the music of composer, arranger, and publisher Charles Henry Pace. With his wife Frankie, Charles ran one of the nation’s earliest and most successful independent black music publishing businesses out of Pittsburgh’s Hill District neighborhood from the mid-1930s to the 1960s. Charles’s music was distributed and performed across the nation and became an important force in Frankie’s community organizing and activism, yet much of it has been inaccessible to performers for decades, surviving only on the printing plates and negative photographs that Charles used to publish his music. Working with the Center for American Music in the University of Pittsburgh Library System, where the Pace archive is housed, the Heritage Gospel Chorale and Alton Merrell Trio will perform some of Pace’s most popular and influential songs in a celebratory concert at Ebenezer Baptist Church.

In conjunction with the concert, on the same day the University of Pittsburgh Library System will host the AMS Allegheny Chapter’s spring meeting. The meeting will feature a keynote address on the gospel tradition. The chapter’s program committee will especially seek proposals for papers, panels, and other types of presentations on music in Pittsburgh and gospel music more generally.

Co-sponsored with: Center for American Music, University of Pittsburgh Library System; AMS Allegheny Chapter

AMS Allegheny coordinators: Megan Woller, president; Christopher Lynch, chapter representative on AMS Council; Jennifer Walker, program chair

Organized in Partnership With



Historic Hill InstituteLower Hill Redevelopment

University of Pittsburgh Center for American MusicUniversity of Pittsburgh Hill District Community Engagement Center

Ebenezer Baptist Church