Tracing the history of gospel music in Chicago


CHICAGO — Just how country music lives in the heart of Nashville, gospel music is part of the very fiber of Chicago.

Was gospel music invented here? Historians will tell you no, as its various forms date all the way back to the 1700s. But Chicago did transform gospel, helping propel it across the world and through time.

Gospel music is an expression of faith for some, while for others, it’s a blending of cultures. Emerging from the Jim Crow South, the music eventually became a part of Chicago’s DNA.

Chicago’s connection with gospel remains so strong that the first-ever gospel music museum is slated to open on the remains of the Pilgram Baptist Church which, was heavily damaged by fire in 2006. If all goes as planned the 40,000-square foot facility could open in 2020.

It would be another chapter — and yet another first — in a genre which has transcended time, status and race.




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