Evelyn Pratt was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, and as a child was active in music and in her church. When she was seven years old, her mother died, and her father managed to keep the five children together. Eventually that meant Evelyn took an active role in the care of their home, while completing her education. She studied music privately, met her future husband Charles (they belonged to the same church), and when they married, she began to contribute her musical skills to his evangelical ministry. In 1980, her husband was invited to serve as pastor at a church in Pittsfield, and the two agreed to relocate with their children. Now, she does many things for Victory Temple Church of God in Christ, including music. She and her husband also host a radio show. “In my school … we were very few. You could count them. The principal called one of the Black brothers in there and they were told, ‘Don’t ask any white girls out.’ They would not allow that at North High School … I was thinking, as they say, stay in your lane.”
“One thing I have said to my children as they were growing up is, ‘Give back. You might gain education, position, whatever, but give back to your community. We’d like for you to share the things that you’ve accomplished and the good that you’ve accomplished with those that are behind you and coming up.'”
Click here to listen to Pratt’s full interview in the Special Collections and University Archives at the UMass Amherst Libraries.
A full transcript of the interview can be accessed here.