In 1938, Gene Pope established an orchestra at West Kentucky College [now West Kentucky Community and Technical College] in Paducah, KY. According to an article in Billboard, Pope's orchestra specialized in club and ballroom music. Their first job was at Bud Shepherd's night club in Vincennes, IN, and they next played at the Cotton Club in Indianapolis, IN. The band played at the Cotton Club for three years; the club was owned by Kentucky natives Denver and Sea Ferguson.
In 1943, Gene Pope and his orchestra were managed by the Ferguson Brothers' Booking Agency. Tthe group played in Indianapolis, New York, Chicago, and Springfield, IL. Saxophone player Vincent Stewart joined the Gene Pope Orchestra that same year; he had been playing with Pha Terrell and Clarence Love.
For more see "Gene Pope and His Orchestra," The Billboard Music Year Book 1943, p. 160; and "Ex-Terrell saxman joins Gene Pope," The Afro-American, 3/27/1943, p. 10.