(photo by Ashley Twiggs/Virginia Folklife Program)
Traditional gospel singing and storytelling
Published June 8, 2010
Richmond, Virginia, has been recognized for generations as a “Gospel town,” with a vibrant tradition of African American gospel groups and choirs, and one of its most legendary figures is Pastor Maggie Ingram. Born July 4, 1930, on Mulholland’s Plantation in Coffee County, Georgia, Maggie worked in the cotton and tobacco fields with her parents. She began playing the piano and singing at an early age, developing a great love for the church and the ministry of the Gospel. Sister Maggie Ingram and the Ingramettes soon became a singing group sought after for appearances throughout Florida. Maggie moved her family to Richmond early in the 1960s, where she worked in the home of Oliver W. Hill Sr., the prominent civil rights attorney who had represented the Virginia plaintiffs in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case. With her children, Maggie began a prison ministry, partnering with the Mt. Gilead Baptist Church in the 1970s. The Ingramettes have since become gospel icons in Richmond and have received numerous awards, including the prestigious Virginia Heritage Award. Maggie’s daughter, the Reverend Almeta Miller, has used her Virginia Folklife Program apprenticeship to record the story of her mother’s life.
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