By Robert M. Marovich

JGM learned from Pastor Mitty Collier and Eric Clark of the passing of the Reverend Dr. Stanley Keeble. Rev. Keeble died December 27, 2023, at age 86.

Stanley Keeble was born March 8, 1937, on Chicago’s West Side to Josephus and Idola Keeble, recent migrants to the city from Arkansas and Mississippi, respectively. The young Keeble took piano lessons starting at age nine, and soon came under the tutelage of organist Willie Webb, who he met while attending Greater Harvest Baptist Church, where Webb was a musician. Keeble also joined Webb’s South Side Community Choir, which included such future gospel stars as Melvin Smothers and Doris Sykes, and R&B/soul artist and music entrepreneur Eddie Thomas.

By 1952, Keeble had joined Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, where the Rev. Dr. Clay Evans was pastor. He accompanied services on piano while Willie Webb played the organ. Webb played so loud, Keeble once said, that he had play the piano loud just to be heard over him, which caused some of the piano strings to break. As a vocalist, Keeble was known for peppering his gravelly baritone with startling screams of spiritual passion. He can be heard leading “Sit at His Feet and be Blessed” on one of the Fellowship MBC albums. He loved his Fellowship MBC family dearly.

During his career, Keeble accompanied gospel singers such as Evelyn Gay of the Gay Sisters, Princess Stewart, Jessy Dixon, Dorothy Love Coates, Rev. Singing Sammy Lewis, the Spencer Jackson Family, Inez Andrews, and Bertha Burley Melson of the Lux Singers. Keeble recalled how an unsighted Stewart determined he was dressed appropriately to accompany her at a gospel program by touching his chest and resting assured that he was wearing a suitcoat and tie.

In 1968, Keeble formed his own small choir, the Voices of Triumph. The group cut its first record, “I Feel Good,” for Harold Freeman’s Righteous label, and went on to record “Can’t You Love Him” for Dynamite and Sounds of Soul. Keeble released solo albums on I Am and Al Smith’s Torrid imprint. He entered religious ministry in 1973 and taught English in the Chicago Public Schools. From 1986 to 1999, he was chaplain at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Hospital. He was also a gospel radio announcer, member of the Gospel Announcers Guild and the Gospel Music Workshop of America, and in 2002 formed the nonprofit Chicago Gospel Music Heritage Museum.

My favorite Rev. Keeble story is how he met Theodore Frye, one of gospel music’s pioneers. He told me the story in 2012:

“I heard the announcement on the radio about this program that was being held at Corpus Christi’s auditorium. I was about fourteen, fifteen. I just heard that it was a musical, I heard where it was and I didn’t wait for the rest of the information. So I go to the program and I didn’t realize it was a paid program. The lady at the door asked me if I had a ticket. Well no, I didn’t have a ticket. She said, ‘Son, you have to have a ticket to come into this program.’ The Lord fixed it so Professor Theodore Frye [sees me] and says, ‘You want to come into this program?’ I said, ‘Yes sir,’ and he said, ‘Okay. I’ll pay for your ticket.’ So Frye paid for my ticket to get into this program. As I was walking away, I said, ‘Thank you Jesus!’ Frye said to me, ‘Boy, I’m the one that bought that ticket. You need to tell me thank you!’”

Homegoing details are as follows:
Saturday, January 6, 2024
10 a.m. Visitation
11 a.m. Service

Morning Star Baptist Church
3993 South King Drive
Chicago, IL 60653
Rev. Dr. Henry A. Barlow, Pastor

Monday, January 8, 2024
Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery
20953 West Hoff Road
Elwood, IL 60421

Meanwhile, let us offer our prayers to the family, friends, and many fans of the Reverend Dr. Stanley Keeble.


  1. Kathryn Kemp December 31, 2023 at 4:47 pm - Reply

    His presence will be missed. I learned much about gospel music from him. I was fortunate to interview him and share many conversations about Chicago’s gospel greats. He was an encourager.

  2. Gee January 1, 2024 at 3:17 am - Reply

    ….one of God’s greatest musician now singing with the heavenly choir! I pray that someone will pick up the baton and continue the work of a Chicago Gospel Museum that you were so passionate about establishing. Rest well Reverend Dr. Stanley Keeble.

  3. Arnetta January 3, 2024 at 4:01 pm - Reply

    Prayers and condolences go to the Keeble Family and all the lives Rev. Stanley Keeble touched and taught for the many years. Rest in Paradise Rev. Keeble.

  4. Aranda Watkins June 25, 2024 at 3:54 am - Reply

    Lord Have Mercy I remember Mr.Keeble he was I’ll organist at First Church Of Spirit And Truth Baptist Church under the late Prophet R T Purham 🕊️🕊️🕊️ I used to sing in the choir he was the best I mean the best Organist Player I’ve ever heard played Rest In Heaven Rev Stanley Keeble 🙏🙏🕊️🕊️🕊️🕊️💞💞💞

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Written by : Bob Marovich

Bob Marovich is a gospel music historian, author, and radio host. Founder of Journal of Gospel Music blog (formally The Black Gospel Blog) and producer of the Gospel Memories Radio Show.