Harold N. Pauley, a noted Sacramento composer, musician and artist in the gospel music industry, died May 8 of cancer, his family said. He was 47.
Mr. Pauley, who began formal music training at 7 and grew up in the church in his native Arkansas, shared his love of gospel music with religious and secular audiences. Besides leading choirs and playing the organ at Northern California churches, he served on the music staff for major community events, including the NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet, the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration and the American Cancer Society Festival of Songs.
With the Unlimited Praise Choir, which he founded in 1994, he recorded and performed gospel music throughout the United States and appeared in a stage play, "Stop the Noise Bring Back the Music (Part II)."
He was a soloist at many concerts and a festival in Sweden that drew thousands of gospel performers and fans, said his brother and manager, Frank Fenner.
"He was an attention-getter," Fenner said. "He let himself go, and you could feel the spirit in his singing. His voice would capture you."
Mr. Pauley worked and performed with top gospel artists, including Rickey Grundy, Kurt Carr, Eugene Cole and Albertina Walker. Besides composing and arranging music for other artists, he produced live recordings and helped manage gospel groups with EMG Music Group Alliance Co. He wrote and produced a gospel stage play, "No Greater Love."
The son of a truck driver and public employee, Mr. Pauley was born in 1965 in Lockesburg, Ark. He learned to play piano by ear and was performing at local churches by 12.
He moved with his family to Sacramento in 1981 and graduated from Sacramento High School. He joined the Air Force and served as a musician at base chapels in Texas, Florida and Colorado.
Mr. Pauley developed an active music ministry, leading choirs and playing the organ at Northern California churches, including Trinity Missionary Baptist Church and Genesis Church in Sacramento and Second Baptist Church of Vallejo. In Sacramento, he belonged to Kyles Temple AME Zion Church before serving for the last 16 years as music minister, worship leader and chairman of the board at New Direction Christian Center.
Often invited to perform at weddings, funerals and memorials, he spent many years as a certified funeral arranger for Thompson Rose Chapel and Sacramento Memorial Lawn. He earned an associate funeral director diploma and worked most recently at Ramsey Wallace Funeral Home & Chapel in Sacramento.
Mr. Thompson earned many honors for his contributions to gospel music, including a 2001 Inspiration Award from Sounds of Soul, a music awards ceremony for Northern California musicians. Although he could perform any genre, his favorite was the music that he grew up singing and playing in church.
"Harold was an expert on gospel hymns," said Anthony Wallace of Ramsey Wallace funeral home. "Everybody was doing the new contemporary music, but he could sit down and play any hymn. He knew them all, from the front of the book to the last page."
Harold N. Pauley
Born: June 20, 1965
Died: May 8, 2013
Survived by: Daughter, Jaleigha of Sacramento; mother, Gwyndolynn of Olive Branch, Miss.; sisters, Corinda of Sacramento, Kimberly Cook of Sacramento, Reneé Wright of Olive Branch, Miss., Montyne Greenlee of Texarkana, Ark., and Tiffany of Fayetteville, Ark.; brothers, Dereck Hamilton of Phoenix, and Frank Fenner of Sacramento; grandmother, Goldie Mae Wilson of Lockesburg, Ark.
Services: Visitation, noon to 4 p.m. today at Thompson Rose Chapel, 3601 Fifth Ave., Sacramento; music celebration, 7 p.m. today at Genesis Church, 2801 Meadowview Road, Sacramento; celebration of life, 11 a.m. Friday at Antioch Progressive Church, 7650 Amherst St., Sacramento
Call The Bee's Robert D. Dávila, (916) 321-1077. Follow him on Twitter @bob_davila.