The electric steel guitar has been the dominant musical instrument for more than fifty years in a number of African American Pentecostal churches, notably the House of God, whose steel guitarists are known for their distinctive playing styles and repertoire. In 1995, the Florida Folklife Program produced a cassette album titled Sacred Steel: Traditional Sacred African-American Steel Guitar Music in Florida. The album, licensed by Arhoolie Records, was distributed internationally and received critical acclaim. Today steel guitar music is more popularly known as Sacred Steel. It was in Philadelphia that the steel guitar was probably first used in a religious service, but Florida, home to fifty-three House of God churches, has produced many of the denomination’s most influential steel guitarists. This chapter, which focuses on Sacred Steel as a musical tradition in Florida, looks at the career of steel guitarist Willie Eason and two other musicians who influenced many younger Florida steel guitarists: Aubrey Ghent and Glenn Lee.
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