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Brief Biographical / Historical Sketch

History

Charles Henry Pace was born on August 4, 1886 in Atlanta, Georgia. At age thirteen, he settled with his family in Chicago, where he continued to study piano and started to compose gospel songs and arrange black spirituals for the Beth Eden and Liberty Baptist Churches. In 1925 he formed the Pace Jubilee Singers, an early conservative gospel group which recorded songs by Pace, Charles Albert Tindley, and others for Victor and Brunswick (1926-1929). Thomas A. Dorsey, for whom Pace published several songs through his Pace Music House, established in Chicago in 1910, briefly accompanied the group.

Pace moved to Pittsburgh in 1936 and shortly thereafter organized the Pace Gospel Choral Union, a 25-member ensemble that was enlarged to as many as 300 singers for special celebrations; its repertory consisted of gospel songs and spirituals. African-American churches in Pittsburgh and its surrounding suburbs raised funds by having the Pace Gospel Choral Union perform their monthly musicals.

Charles Henry Pace also founded two extremely successful music publishing houses in Pittsburgh: Old Ship of Zion Music Company, 1936-1951, and Charles H. Pace Music Publishers, 1952-1963, from which he published most of his 104 sacred compositions and arrangements and 26 secular songs. During 1941-1945, the Old Ship of Zion Music Company had 301 agents committed to selling Pace songs, and 2,511 direct mail order customers throughout the United States, making it one of the top gospel music publishers in America.

Pace died in Pittsburgh on December 16, 1963. His gospel songs, the best known of which are "Bread of Heaven," "Hide My Soul," and "Nobody but you, Lord," are in the style of Tindley’s songs, with a verse-chorus structure, memorable melodies, and simple, effective harmonies.

Taken from, the New Grove Dictionary of American Music, London: Maximillian Press, Vol. III, 1986 and Tyler, Mary Ann, Ph. D, The Music of Charles Henry Pace and Its Relationship to the Afro-American Church Experience, 1980.