Ruth A. Inman is Librarian at Kennedy-King College in Chicago. She was granted the Epstein Award to study the records of the Martin and Morris Music Company, a pioneering gospel music publishing business in Chicago between 1940 and 1980. The proposed project will entail study of Company records, which are held at the Archives Center of the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., as well as relevant materials housed at other libraries in the area.
Sallie Martin is considered the “Mother of Gospel Music” and Kenneth Morris is described as the “Dean of Black Gospel Music Publishing.” The proposed project will result in a paper containing a biography of Sallie Martin and Kenneth Morris as composers, musicians, and businesspeople; a history of the Martin and Morris Music Company; and a catalog of Martin and Morris publications.
Ms. Inman has had an abiding interest in African-American culture ever since her childhood exposure to the civil rights movement. “Gospel music scholarship is pretty new,” she admitted. Ms. Inman describes an “exponential growth” in the amount of research on African-American popular music in the late twentieth century, but she thinks that even so, little or no research has been done on the publishing history of this repertoire.
Ms. Inman is currently working at Northern Illinois University on a M.M. with an individualized study in music history. This research will help her fulfill the requirements for the degree, as well as something to present to the Music Library Association at the next Annual Meeting, scheduled for February 2002.