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Fort Worth's first couple of gospel music to lead Pace Family Concert 2010

Pace Family Concert 2010

7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Bass Hall


www.basshall.com; 817-451-3721

Posted 6:15am on Wednesday, Jun. 16, 2010

A new generation of a Fort Worth music dynasty will take the stage Wednesday at Bass Hall.

The Pace Family Concert 2010 will be led by Fort Worth's first couple of gospel music, the Rev. Milton Pace and Shirley Pace. The show will feature performances by the couple's children and grandchildren, including vocalist Melodie Pace Davis, pianist Taylor Pace and organist Nathan Young.

Also on the bill is a 100-voice gospel children's choir from the Saintsville Cathedral and Academy, a Meadowbrook-area church that the Paces founded in 1983.

But the concert is more than a showcase for family talents, said daughter Tiffany Pace Whitaker, who runs the Saintsville Academy. It's a celebration for all of Fort Worth's African-American community.

"In the black community today, we see so many negative images of our children," Whitaker said. "So when people come out to this concert and they see this family onstage and they see these children singing and looking as elegant as they do, it will definitely bring hope to the African-American community and override some of the negativity that we hear so much."

The Pace Family Concert 2010 at Bass Hall is a benefit for the Saintsville Academy to fund construction of math, science and fine arts classrooms. This past school year the preparatory school served 105 youngsters, from toddlers to fifth-graders. Summer programs are under way.

Whitaker and her father say the environment at Saintsville -- both at the church and academy -- lets musical talent take root and flourish. At the school, children sing at chapel services and in the classroom. Some learn violin in a Suzuki-method class.

At church on Sundays, a gospel choir reinforces the meaning and emotion of a Christian message.

"It's giving students the same exposure that I was given in the church as a little girl," Whitaker said. "Choir is where it starts."

It was where it started for Milton Pace when as a child he learned piano under his mother's tutelage and played for vocal groups at church.

"I'm experiencing success now because of my childhood experiences of being able to use my talent through the platform of the church," Pace said. "And we use that same concept now. When we put the kids onstage and the way we teach them to sing, the magic of believing enters into their minds.

"And they believe in themselves."

Whitaker remembers her parents passing on that love of music -- and a commitment to faith. From the 1970s, Milton and Shirley Pace put on gospel concerts in Fort Worth and regionwide. Daughter Melodie sang with the Fort Worth Symphony at Concerts in the Garden.

Son Taylor and his wife, Brandi, are jazz and R&B musicians; adopted son Nathan Young toured with gospel star Kirk Franklin.

Despite success, Whitaker said her dad's musical message was not always welcome.

"My sister and I, we'd be outside playing with other kids, but he'd make us come in the house and practice," she said. "We didn't like that so much."

But she said music was a constant in the Pace household and continues to bind the generations.

"It was natural, being in a musical home and hearing music all the time, always hearing him play," Whitaker said. "Even though we were in a Christian home, we had all types of music. We listened to Stevie Wonder like crazy, classical music, jazz, gospel, every genre. So hearing it all the time it kind of just became second nature."

It's that same natural expression through music that Pace and Whitaker hope to pass on to students at Saintsville -- and what will be on display today during the concert.

"Music is probably the most powerful force for communicating on the planet," Pace said. "It is universal. Shirley and I wanted to share the joy that we found in God and in his Word through this music."

Whitaker said: "You're going to hear every genre of music -- classical, jazz, gospel" at today's concert. "But I don't think we have much hip-hop -- we couldn't convince my dad to do that."

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