Gospel music museum to open in Chicago

February 17, 2010 5:04:44 PM PST
February is Black History Month. So it is fitting that it was announced Wednesday that Chicago will get a new museum for gospel music. Organizers hope to open the museum later this year.Every year, thousands of people flock to Gospel Fest to enjoy the genre of music that got its start in Chicago.

Reverend Tomas Dorsey of Pilgrim Baptist Church helped pioneer the sound that combines Christian praise with the rhythm of jazz and blues.

"Thomas Dorsey had a hard time getting this music into the black church, because we were accustomed to singing the spirituals and the hymns and the anthems," said Rev. Stanley Keeble, organizing gospel museum.

Keeble is a Chicago native who is entrenched in the world of gospel music and recorded several of his own songs.

Keeble wants to establish a gospel museum and would stock it with a lot of his own memorabilia.

"There are many, many people that don't know about this music, and don't know about these pioneers who made it all possible," said Keeble.

Those pioneers include the Roberta Martin Singers and Mahalia Jackson who sang at Metropolitan Apostolic Community Church at 41st and King Drive.

An agreement was reached between the church and Keeble to house the museum in the parsonage next door.

Both structures were at one point close to being town down. Now they are designated landmarks.

"This church wants to be affirmative for the African-American gospel music and spiritual music experience, and the parsonage wants to be its museum," said Rev. Leon Finney, Metropolitan Apostolic Community Church.

Keeble is relying in private finding and hopes to raise a million dollars to convert the building to both the gospel museum and a space that chronicles the history of African-American media. He hopes it can open by Thanksgiving.