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Trace Family Trio

About The Artist

The Trace Family Trio consisted of a mother and her two daughters who hailed from the lower Scioto Valley in southern Ohio.

  • Sylvia Justice Trace
    Born: March 13, 1915
    Died: May 12, 1989

  • Darlene Trace
    Born: May 2, 1932

  • Teena (Ernestine)
    Born: August 5, 1934
    Died: June 27, 2016

Syliva Justice Trace was one of eight children born and raised by parents Levi and Maggie (Lester) Justice. Her father was born in Lawrence, Kentucky. By the time the 1920 census was taken, Levi had married and the Justice family was now living in Lucasville, OH in Scioto County. Sylvia married as a teenager (to Ernest Meade), subsequently giving birth to her daughters. The 1940 U.S. Census shows her status as divorced. She later married Russell Charles Trace. He died on May 21, 1955 at the age of 58.

Mrs. Trace was not only a dedicated Christian but had a talent for song lyric composition and singing. She felt that there was a need for newly composed sacred songs. She passed her vocal talents on to her daughters.

During the latter half of the 1940's, the Traces began to develop a tight trio harmony with a simple guitar accompaniment and sometimes piano. Their sound and style were reminiscent of the original Carter Family.

This singing skill quickly passed from their home, to their church, to neighboring churches, and gospel sings. While they never had a regular radio program they often sang on local station WPAY and about 1950 made four custom recordings on their own; this appears to have been on the "Trace Trio" record label.

Research of newspaper archives show mostly their appearances at local churches and revivals. One such note implied that Sylvia was a minister. A Social Calendar column in 1963 indcated that the Trace Trio of Lucasville were to be special singers at the annual homecoming at Mt. Pleasant Methodist CHurch on Rte. 93S. It indicated that the "Rev. Syliva Trace" would be the afternoon speaker.

Promo Ad - Trace Family Trio - Rescue Mission - Chillicothe OH Sep 1957
Promo Ad - Trace Trio - Rescue Mission - Chillicothe OH - Sep 9 1957

Promo Ad - Records - Trace Family Trio - September 1960
Promo Ad - Trace Trio - Ridewood Heights Pentecostal Church Singing Convention - Nov 1955

A Dayton disc jockey was much impressed and had the best of their songs "The Lord Will Make a Way Somehow" published by Acuff-Rose. Sylvia then sold the Masters to Syd Nathan at King who signed them to a contract. Meanwhile, the Jordanaires and Carl Story recorded their song although the Story version remained unreleased until 2011.

The Trace Family Trio went on to have a total of sixteen numbers released on King Records during the 1950s, most of them originals by Sylvia. They continued to play area churches as before, but their reach now extended into more distant parts of Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia. Among their other recordings, "My Title to Heaven," more often called "Clear Title to a Mansion," has become a standard.

Darlene Trace DeAtley recalled that they enjoyed a good relationship with Syd Nathan even though "he was not of our faith" [meaning he was Jewish]. This contrasts with some artists' impression of Nathan who could be difficult at times.

Sylvia Trace had a bad fall backwards down a flight of stairs in 1962, and the resulting injuries and subsequent health problems virtually ended the career of the Trio as she seldom sang in public again, passing in 1989.

The daughters retained fond memories of their mother, the moral foundation she carved for them, and their singing days.

In 2005 Old Homestead released a compact disc containing most of their original recordings with the daughters' approval.

78rpm - Trace Trio - A Mother's Tear Stained Bible - Trace Trio 100-A

78rpm - Trace Family Trio - I'll Be No Stranger There - Parlophone D.P.381

45rpm - Have You Any Time For Jesus - Trace Family Trio - King 45-5371

Credits & Sources

  • Hillbilly-Music.com would like to express its thanks to Ivan M. Tribe, author of Mountaineer Jamboree — Country Music in West Virginia and other books that can be found on Amazon.com and numerous articles in other publications for providing us with information about this artist.
  • Social Calendar - Sunday September 15 (1963); September 13, 1963; Logan Daily News; Logan, OH
  • Salt Creek News; Wiggins, Mrs. Lola; Logan Daily News; Logan, OH
  • Logan Route 1; Mrs. Kenneth Rheinscheid; September 9, 1963; Logan Daily News; Logan, OH

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Recordings (78rpm/45rpm)

Rec. No. Side Song Title
  1185 A The Lord Will Make A Way Somehow
  1185 B My Mother's Tear-Stained Bible
  1239 A I've Got A Longing To Go
  1239 B I'll Be No Stranger There
  1398 A Jesus, Wonderful One
  1398 B Take Time To Understand
  1422 A My Title To Heaven
  1422 B My Mother's Dying Message
  183 A I've Started Out To Find A Better Home
  183 B There's a Homecoming Day Up In Heaven
  45-5307 A Old Ship Of Zion
  45-5307 B My Home In The Sky
  45-5371 A Heaven Will Surely Be Worth It All
  45-5371 B Have You Any Time For Jesus?
  4984 A Keep Moving On
  4984 B Fear Not My Child
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  DP 381 A I'll Be No Stranger There
  DP 381 B I've Got a Longing To Go
Trace Trio
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  100 A A Mother's Tear Stained Bible
  100 B The Lord Will make A Way Somehow
  101 A Standing Somewhere In Shadows
  101 B The Little Country Church

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