Catherine “Kitty” Parham – November 16, 1924 – June 27, 2003
Kitty was born to the Rev. Charlie and Lela Burney Parham on November 16, 1924 in Thomasville, Georgia. Kitty was the oldest child born to this Union.
Kitty joined and was baptized at Galilee Baptist Church in Trenton New Jersey under the pastorate of the late Rev. S.M. Bagley, where hr family where active members. Her love for Christ was professed during her early years while singing in the choir as St. James Baptist Church in Woodbury, NJ.
She attended Lincoln Middle School and later she graduated from Trenton Central High School. She also attended Trenton Jr. College (MCCC). At a National Convention some years ago, she was inducted into Zeta Phi Beta Sorority as an honorary member, for her contribution as National Gospel Recording star.
A world-renowned singer, Kitty began singing at the age of eight at St. James Baptist Church in Woodbury, NJ, where her father, Rev C. A. Parham was pastor. In the late forties she joined the Philadelphia-based Clara Ward & The Ward Singers who record, “Packing UP,” We Shall Be Changed-lead by Kitty Parham” and their first gold record, “Surely, God Is Able,” to name a few. In 1958 Kitty left the Ward Signers, having given them 10 or more years of spiritual labor. Later in that same year Kitty along with the Ex-Ward Singers (Marion William, Francis Stedman), quit the group and later formed The Stars of Faith. While being in The Stars of Faith, Kitty was a part of the cast of the record-setting first Black Broadway play, “Black Nativity” by Langston Hughes. From these beginnings, she traveled and performed all over the world. She was a part of command performances before Pope Paul IV, and Pope John XXIII as well kings, queens & diplomats in Africa, Europe and South America.
Kitty Relocated to Philadelphia 50 years ago. She was employed as Church Clerk for Holy Temple Church of God in Christ, Philadelphia, for many years.
Among her many award and citation are: Grammy, Tony and Stellar Award; Hall of Fame in Cincinnati, Ohio, Music Walk of Fame in Philadelphia, Pa; African-American museum in Philadelphia, Pa and Memphis, Tenn. She also received citations from City of Philadelphia Mayor Ed Randall; Mayor Office, City of Trenton, NJ. Philadelphia City Council; Senator Roxanne Jones, Philadelphia, Pa; Philadelphia Councilwoman Augusta Clark and Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm.
Kitty was a long time member of the Holy Temple Church of God in Christ where her affiliation were: Director of Music for the 5th Sunday Mass Choir, Youth Mass Choir and Templeairs; Christian Adult Fellowship Choir, Young Adult Choral Member; Bereavement Choir Member, Camp COGIC After School program special Guest Music Teacher; Host and Hostess Committee Member; Bereavement Committee Member; Holy Temple Church office Clerk; Woman’s Department Public Relation Chairperson; and Community Child Development Center Buss Matron and Certified Driver.
Her Jurisdiction Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Church of God in Christ activities were: President and Music Director, West Philadelphia District Choir; President, Music Department: Member, May Festival Committee: Member, Committee of Arrangements: Hospitality Committee. For the International Music Department of the Church of God in Christ, she was a member of the Department of Finance, Resister and Regional Coordinator for the Northeast Region.
The last chapter of Kitty’s life was closed on Friday June 27, 2003, two day after attending the funeral services of her mother’ last brother, Cleveland Burney in Trenton, NJ. Her Final song to the family was “Blessed Assurance.”
Catherine “Kitty” Parham a true gospel Legend in Pennsylvania’s Gospel History.