Pam Morris: I reached the end of an era

Today starts a new chapter in Pam Morris’ life. After two decades of helping the city to bring some of the biggest names in the gospel industry to Grant and (later) Millennium Parks downtown, Morris has left her post in the Mayor’s Office of S

Today starts a new chapter in Pam Morris’ life.

After two decades of helping the city to bring some of the biggest names in the gospel industry to Grant and (later) Millennium Parks downtown, Morris has left her post in the Mayor’s Office of Special Events.

The walls in her South Side home tell the story of her success and adoration around the city and worldwide. The plethora of plaques, certificates and photos with high-profile dignitaries, including U.S. presidents and South African President Nelson Mandela, and with famous gospel recording artists, show how deeply entrenched her work as an ambassador for the city and the mayor Pam Morris was. And it is a clear indicator of just how much she loves gospel music.

She stepped into her role as head producer for the Chicago Gospel Music Festival in 1989. At that time, the event was held at the South Shore Cultural Center. But soon the event outgrew that venue and was moved to Grant Park.

Thousands of people each year would pack the park and the Petrillo Music Shell area to enjoy the lineup of gospel performers, which included popular local choirs, singing groups and churches, and nationally known recording artists. Years later, when Millennium Park was opened, the gospel fest moved there with even more fans in tow.

Morris went out on a very high note, as this year’s gospel fest, which became her last, featured Fantasia and internationally known Donnie McClurkin and Kirk Franklin.

The job, as rewarding as it was all the way to the end–and at the close of each year’s gospel fest–was not without its challenges, Morris recalled.

Changes in rules, changes in management, changes in a number of other things over the years began to wear on the author and Stellar Award winner.

For years she rolled with the changes–and the punches–buoyed by her love for the people of Chicago, she explained, and her commitment to simply do a good job.

But now, she concedes, it’s time to move on.

Her decision to leave came quietly but not all that unexpectedly for her.

Hours after the last gospel fest ended on June 7, Morris was entertaining house guests. She excused herself from her company and went into another room of her home.

“A voice just came to me and said ‘This is it,’” she told the Defender.

And she found a letter of resignation she had started writing a few years ago but never completed until now.

“I had reached some challenges that had disturbed me,” she said acknowledging that headaches as well as good things came with the job. But unlike the last time, where she said God had not given her the okay to quit, this time she feels she got the spiritual green light to let it go.

“It’s good that God has given me this kind of opportunity to still be able to walk away from something you’ve completed and done your best at, and do something else,” she said.

She submitted her resignation to the city on June 9 and hasn’t had a second thought. And her family is behind her all the way.

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