DR. CURTIS LEWIS SR., left, with wife, Billye, Barbara Price, right, and minister Tony Anderson, top. (Photos by Jackie McDonald)

The longtime Aliquippa resident died July 20 after an extended illness

“He was small in stature but walked in power.”

Those were the words echoed by Pastor Kim Lankford of Oasis Ministries in West Mifflin to the crowd gathered at the Church in the Round in Aliquippa, July 28, for a commemorative gospel music concert celebrating the life of Dr. Curtis Ray Lewis Sr.

Dr. Lewis, a noted preacher, psalmist, celebrated songwriter/composer, choir director, recording artist and mentor in the ministry of gospel music in the region, died July 20 at the age of 74 after an extended illness.

The homegoing celebration for Dr. Lewis was held July 29, also at the Church in the Round, Aliquippa.

Though his interest in keyboards began at the age of 4, he began his career in the early 1960s playing for the Northeastern Michigan Jurisdiction Church of God in Christ (COGIC) choir, under the direction of the late Dr. Mattie Moss Clark, mother of the renowned Clark sisters. Dr. Lewis became the organist for the Motown record company, and his skillful techniques caught the attention of gospel music greats. He later became the on-site musician for professor Charles Taylor, of Brooklyn, the Davis sisters and the Imperial Gospel Singers of Philadelphia. Dr. Lewis also accompanied the Meditation Singers, Rev. James Cleveland and the Gospel Chimes of Detroit.

Through a series of evangelistic services, Dr. Lewis’ musical journey led him to Aliquippa in 1962. He was invited by Pastor Melvin Clark Sr. of First COGIC to serve in full-time ministry. His 55-year commitment of love and dedicated leadership inspired his creativity and development of the signature sound he’s best known for at the Church in the Round and as state Minister of Music for the Second Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction of COGIC.

Dr. Lewis received an honorary doctorate degree from the Florida Southern College in Sacred Letters and became dean of the international music department of COGIC, as well as serving as historian, director and executive coordinator of the COGIC Heritage Singers. He was awarded the COGIC International Music Department Lifetime Achievement award. He served as consultant for Praise and Worship at Geneva College.

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