Today, Central City Founder, Chairman and CEO, Don Jackson announced plans to open a $32 million National Museum of Gospel Music in Chicago that will include exhibitions, a research library and the historic artifacts and video library of the Stellar Gospel Music Awards! This seems more than appropriate that Jackson would spearhead this important project. He founded the Stellar Gospel Music Awards and is the former chairman of the DuSable Museum of African American History.
The Museum will stand on the site of the ruins of Pilgrim Baptist Church. The l890 church on the city’s South Side played a major role in the development of gospel music. In fact, the father of Gospel music, Thomas Dorsey, was Pilgrim’s music director for quite some.
Several gospel artists were on hand during the press conference. VaShawn Mitchell sang “Joy.” Donald Lawrence shared a few words and said he was looking forward to putting some things in the museum and applauded the fact the museum would allow a look at where gospel came from. Dr. Marabeth Gentry, President of the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses expressed her enthusiasm and shared the impact that Thomas Dorsey had on gospel music. Others on the platform at the press conference included Tyscot Records’ Bryant Scott and Congressman Bobby Rush.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel also released this statement, “Chicago is the birthplace of gospel music and the perfect home for the new National Museum of Gospel Music. The museum will pay further tribute to the home-grown genre that’s given life to legends like Thomas Dorsey, Mahalia Jackson, Albertina Walker, Jessy Dixon, Shirley Caesar, and so many more.”
The museum is expected to break ground early 2019 and open the following year in September, the month designated as Gospel Music Heritage Month. In 2008, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) led the passing of a resolution in both chambers declaring September as Gospel Music Heritage Month.