Sacred steel is a musical style and African-American gospel tradition that developed in House of God churches in the 1930s. Members and nonmembers refer to the church as the House of God. Its full name is the House of God Which Is the Church of the Living God the Pillar and Ground of the Truth Without Controversy, Keith Dominion. Brothers Troman and Willie Eason introduced pedal steel guitar to worship services in place of the traditional organ. This new instrument was met with great enthusiasm and taken up by others including the Bishop J.R. Lockley. The three toured together and later Willie put the new style down on record, recording a total of eighteen sides in the 1940s and 50s. Sacred steel has since become an integral part of the Pentecostal House of God's Sunday services.
Since then, sacred steel has grown and flourished within the House of God churches which are located today mainly in New York, Kentucky, and Florida. The most famous practitioner is Robert Randolph of the Robert Randolph and the Family Band. Randolph, the son of a deacon and a minister, took up pedal steel guitar at 17. Just seven years later, he has become one of the most original and talented practitioners of the sacred steel form.
Willie Eason's nephew Aubrey Ghent has also become a celebrated steel guitarist, preserving the sacred steel tradition and bringing it to a wider audience. Ghent's father, Henry Nelson, was also schooled by Eason and played sacred steel for over 50 years, sharing the stage with such gospel greats as Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Mahalia Jackson. Unlike Robert Randolph and the Family Band who have crossed over to doing more secular music, Aubrey Ghent has stayed closer to the gospel roots of tradition.