Dr. William Herbert Brewster

Dr. William Herbert Brewster, the son of former slaves, was born July 2, 1897 and died October 14 1987.

He was a pioneer, when it came to making a positive difference in the lives of the people he touched. People like Mahalia Jackson, and Elvis Presley. In his day he was a very influential African American Baptist Preacher. He was also a minister, singer, composer, a poet and a community leader. He was very instrumental at trying to bring the races together, something that just was not done at the time.

In 1922, he graduated from Roger Williams College in Nashville Tennessee. He served as pastor of the East Trigg Baptist Church, located on East Trigg just west of South Bellevue, from 1930 to 1987. As a composer he wrote more than 200 songs. Mahalia Jackson’s first hit record was one of Doctor Brewster’s “Move up a Little Higher” It was the first Black 1 million seller gospel song… 

In 1949 he hosted an on air radio program, which was broadcasted from his church on WHBQ. The show, Camp Meeting of the Air, reached all who heard it. His music program and choir had great influence on a young Elvis Presley who often attended services at the church. In later years he hosted a program, Gospel Treasures Haven on WDIA Radio.

In 1982 the Smithsonian Institute held a symposium on the history of his life and his many contributions to the community. Brewster Elementary School, located at Collins and Sam Cooper was named for him.

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