Harold Washington Library Center
Visual and Performing Arts
Martin & Morris Gospel Sheet Music Collection
In 1940, Morris left Bowles Music House and teamed with gospel singer Sallie Martin to start his own publishing business, the Martin and Morris Music Company. Sallie Martin (1896-1988) had come to Chicago in 1927 from Pittsfield, Georgia to work with another gospel pioneer, Thomas A. Dorsey. Her group, the Sallie Martin Singers, traveled throughout the United States and Europe. Martin remained associated with the Martin & Morris Music Studio until 1975.
Martin & Morris also distributed music from other publishing houses such as Venice Music, Clara Ward Publications, Roberta Martin Music Studios, Frazier-Cleveland Music, Savoy Music, Excellorec, Flomar Music and Conrad Music. Martin & Morris published works by other artists as well and soon became the leading gospel music publishing company. Among their composers were Alex Bradford, James Cleveland, Sam Cooke, W. Herbert Brewster, Lucie Campbell, and Dorothy Love Coates. Utilizing his talents as transcriber and arranger, Kenneth Morris added his name in one way or another to most of the sheet music that graced the shelves of his studio. He composed more than 300 gospel songs.
Morris ran his music business which also sold records, hymnals and music books until his death at the age of 71 in 1989. His wife, Mrs. Necie Morris, continued to operate the store until it closed in 1993, after 52 years of service to the gospel community. Sallie Martin died in 1988 at the age of 92.