When one thinks of Chicago gospel, names such as Thomas Dorsey, Roberta Martin, Kenneth Morris, Sallie Martin, and Mahalia Jackson come to mind. But there were many other shining lights in the Chicago gospel music community “back in the day,” and many of them came out of the Church of God in Christ.
Mack C. Mason’s recently published book, Saints in the Land of Lincoln (Faithday Press), examines in detail the Chicago COGIC gospel music scene. As I write in my forward to the book:
“With Saints in the Land of Lincoln, Elder Mack C. Mason has contributed invaluably to historical scholarship in a variety of ways. First, he combines the historian’s curiosity with the insider’s keen perspective as he tells the story, largely ignored and undeservedly so, of a vibrant church community and the power and influence of its leaders.
“Secondly, Mason provides valuable information on the growth of gospel music in Chicago’s Pentecostal churches and the singers and musicians who breathed life in what would become one of the nation’s greatest art forms. While excellent studies have been done about gospel music’s founding fathers, there are still many untold stories of the unsung heroes who labored to make gospel music what it is today. Mason’s book does an admirable job filling this information gap.
“Third, Elder Mason gives us a glimpse of Chicago that for some will be a revelation, and for others a fond reminiscence of a time when neighborhoods functioned like little cities, and the churches stood as their capitals of comfort, joy, and wisdom.
“In Saints in the Land of Lincoln, everybody is somebody, and reading their stories of dedication, determination, wisdom, courage, and commitment to the service of God and His creatures, rightfully so. Thanks be to Elder Mason for shining their bright lights for all the world to see, so that it may gain inspiration in these troubled times.”