Known as West Virginia's "First Lady of Gospel Music," Ethel Caffie-Austin is a gifted pianist, singer, choir leader and educator.
With a big, passionate voice and mighty two-fisted piano style, Ethel Caffie-Austin
home gospel train with a fiery intensity and élan.
The daughter of a Pentecostal minister, Caffie-Austin was born and raised in Mount Hope, West Virginia, in the heart of the coalfields.
Among the songs and stories passed on to her
family and neighbors were veiled references to the Underground Railroad, and the community's participation as a way station on the road north to freedom.
began playing piano at the age of six, started accompanying church services when she
was nine, and directed her
first church choir at the age of 11.
began directing choirs for the Churches of God in Christ when she
was 14, and has been active in that church ever since.
Today, Ethel Caffie-Austin serves as the pastor of Rimson Memorial Church of God in Christ in Charleston, and Minister of Music of the West Virginia Jurisdiction of the Churches of God in Christ.
Outside of the church, Ethel received a teaching degree in Language Arts from the West Virginia Institute of Technology, and, several years later, was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Arts degree from that institution.
In addition to her
honorary Doctorate, Caffie-Austin
has received a number of other awards, including the Jefferson Award for Humanity and West Virginia's Brotherhood Award.
has appeared on public radio's Mountain Stage, at the Kennedy Center
in Washington, D.C., and with the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra.
has taught numerous vocal and piano workshops in the United States and Europe, where she
incorporates spirituals and other pre-gospel styles into her
presentations in order to expose people to the wide range of African American sacred music.
is backed by a fine vocal trio of Linda Renee Hawkins, Quandora Louise Hornbuckle and leader Delnora McCullar Roberts.