Gospel music is a genre of Christian music. The creation, performance, significance, and even the definition of gospel music varies according to culture and social context. Gospel music is composed and performed for many purposes, including aesthetic pleasure, religious or ceremonial purposes, and as an entertainment product for the marketplace. Gospel music usually has dominant vocals (often with strong use of harmony) with Christian lyrics. Gospel music can be traced to the early 17th century, with roots in the black oral tradition. Hymns and sacred songs were often repeated in a call and response fashion. Most of the churches relied on hand clapping and foot stomping as rhythmic accompaniment. Most of the singing was done a cappella. The first published use of the term "gospel song" probably appeared in 1874. The original gospel songs were written and composed by authors such as George F. Root, Philip Bliss, Charles H. Gabriel, William Howard Doane, and Fanny Crosby. Gospel music publishing houses emerged. The advent of radio in the 1920s greatly increased the audience for gospel music. Following World War II, gospel music moved into major auditoriums, and gospel music concerts became quite elaborate.
Gospel blues is a blues-based form of gospel music (a combination of blues guitar and evangelistic lyrics). Southern gospel used all male, tenor-lead-baritone-bass quartet make-up. Progressive Southern gospel is an American music genre that has grown out of Southern gospel over the past couple of decades. Christian country music, sometimes referred to as country gospel music, is a subgenre of gospel music with a country flair. It peaked in popularity in the mid-1990s.
Bluegrass gospel music is rooted in American mountain music. Celtic gospel music infuses gospel music with a Celtic flair, and is quite popular in countries such as Ireland. British black gospel refers to Gospel music of the African diaspora, which has been produced in the UK. Some proponents of "standard" hymns generally dislike gospel music of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Today, with historical distance, there is a greater acceptance of such gospel songs into official denominational hymnals.
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Gospel music features dominant vocals (often with strong use of harmony) and Christian lyrics. Some modern gospel music, however, isn't explicitly Christian and just utilizes the sound. Subgenres include contemporary gospel, urban contemporary gospel (sometimes referred to as "black gospel"), Southern gospel, and modern gospel music (now more commonly known as praise and worship music or contemporary Christian music). Several forms of gospel music utilize choirs, use piano or Hammond organ, tambourines, drums, bass guitar and, increasingly, electric guitar. In comparison with hymns, which are generally of a statelier measure, the gospel song is expected to have a refrain and often a more syncopated rhythm.
Several attempts have been made to describe the style of late 19th and early 20th century gospel songs in general. Christ-Janer said "the music was tuneful and easy to grasp ... rudimentary harmonies ... use of the chorus ... varied metric schemes ... motor rhythms were characteristic ... The device of letting the lower parts echo rhythmically a motive announced by the sopranos became a mannerism".
Patrick and Sydnor emphasize the notion that gospel music is "sentimental", quoting Sankey as saying, "Before I sing I must feel", and they call attention to the comparison of the original version of Rowley's "I Will Sing the Wondrous Story" with Sankey's version. Gold said, "Essentially the gospel songs are songs of testimony, persuasion, religious exhortation, or warning. Usually the chorus or refrain technique is found."
According to Yale University music professor Willie Ruff, the singing of psalms in Gaelic by Presbyterians of the Scottish Hebrides evolved from "lining out" – where one person sang a solo and others followed – into the call and response of gospel music of the American South. Coming out of the African-American religious experience, American gospel music can be traced to the early 17th century, with foundations in the works of Dr. Isaac Watts and others. Gospel music has roots in the black oral tradition, and typically utilizes a great deal of repetition, which allows those who could not read the opportunity to participate in worship. During this time, hymns and sacred songs were lined and repeated in a call and response fashion, and Negro spirituals and work songs emerged. Repetition and "call and response" are accepted elements in African music, designed to achieve an altered state of consciousness we sometimes refer to as "trance", and strengthen communal bonds.
Most of the churches relied on hand-clapping and foot-stomping as rhythmic accompaniment. Guitars and tambourines were sometimes available, but not frequently. Church choirs became a norm only after emancipation. Most of the singing was done a cappella.
Perhaps the most famous gospel-based hymns were composed in the 1760s and 1770s by English writers John Newton ("Amazing Grace") and Augustus Toplady ("Rock of Ages"), members of the Anglican Church. Starting out as lyrics only, it took decades for standardized tunes to be added to them. Although not directly connected with African-American gospel music, they were adopted by African-Americans as well as white Americans, and Newton's connection with the abolition movement provided cross-fertilization.
The first published use of the term "Gospel Song" probably appeared in 1874 when Philip Bliss released a songbook entitled Gospel Songs. A Choice Collection of Hymns and Tunes. It was used to describe a new style of church music, songs that were easy to grasp and more easily singable than the traditional church hymns, which came out of the mass revival movement starting with Dwight L. Moody, whose musician was Ira D. Sankey, as well as the Holiness-Pentecostal movement. Prior to the meeting of Moody and Sankey in 1870, there was an American rural/frontier history of revival and camp meeting songs, but the gospel hymn was of a different character, and it served the needs of mass revivals in the great cities.
The revival movement employed popular singers and song leaders, the most famous of them being Ira D. Sankey. The original gospel songs were written and composed by authors such as George F. Root, Philip Bliss, Charles H. Gabriel, William Howard Doane, and Fanny Crosby. As an extension to his initial publication Gospel Songs, Philip Bliss, in collaboration with Ira D. Sankey issued no's. 1 to 6 of Gospel Hymns in 1875. Sankey and Bliss's collection can be found in many libraries today.
The popularity of revival singers and the openness of rural churches to this type of music (in spite of its initial use in city revivals) led to the late 19th and early 20th century establishment of gospel music publishing houses such as those of Homer Rodeheaver, E. O. Excell, Charlie Tillman, and Charles Tindley. These publishers were in the market for large quantities of new music, providing an outlet for the creative work of many songwriters and composers.
The holiness-Pentecostal movement, or sanctified movement, appealed to people who were not attuned to the Europeanized version of black church music. Holiness worship has used any type of instrumentation that congregation members might bring in, from tambourines to electric guitars. Pentecostal churches readily adopted and contributed to the gospel music publications of the early 20th century. Late 20th-century musicians such as Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Mahalia Jackson, Andrae Crouch, and the Blackwood Brothers either were raised in a Pentecostal environment, or have acknowledged the influence of that tradition.
The advent of radio in the 1920s greatly increased the audience for gospel music, and James D. Vaughan used radio as an integral part of his business model, which also included traveling quartets to publicize the gospel music books he published several times a year. Virgil O. Stamps and Jesse R. Baxter studied Vaughan's business model and by the late 1920s were running heavy competition for Vaughan. The 1920s also saw the marketing of gospel records by groups such as the Carter Family.
In African-American music, gospel quartets developed an a cappella style following the earlier success of the Fisk Jubilee Singers. The 1930s saw the Fairfield Four, the Dixie Hummingbirds, the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi, the Five Blind Boys of Alabama, The Soul Stirrers, the Swan Silvertones, the Charioteers, and the Golden Gate Quartet. Racism divided the nation, and this division did not skip the church. If during slavery blacks were treated as inferior inside the white churches, after emancipation they formed their own separate churches. The gospel groups which were very popular within the black community, were virtually unknown to the white community, though some in the white community began to follow them. In addition to these high-profile quartets, there were many black gospel musicians performing in the 1920s and 30s, usually playing the guitar and singing in the streets of Southern cities. Famous among them were Blind Willie Johnson, Blind Joe Taggart and others.
In the 1930s, in Chicago, Thomas A. Dorsey (known for composing the song "Precious Lord, Take My Hand"), who had spent the 1920s writing and performing secular blues music under the name "Georgia Tom", turned to gospel music, establishing a publishing house. He had experienced many trials in his life,including the death of his pregnant wife. Thomas gained biblical knowledge from his father, who was a Baptist minister, and was taught to play piano by his mother. He started working with blues musicians when the family moved to Atlanta. It has been said that 1930 was the year when modern gospel music began, because the National Baptist Convention first publicly endorsed the music at its 1930 meeting. Dorsey was responsible for developing the musical careers of many African-American artists, such as Mahalia Jackson.
Meanwhile, radio continued to develop an audience for gospel music, a fact that was commemorated in Albert E. Brumley's 1937 song, "Turn Your Radio On" (which is still being published in gospel song books). In 1972, a recording of "Turn Your Radio On" by the Lewis Family was nominated for "Gospel Song of the Year" in the Gospel Music Association's Dove Awards.
Following the World War II, gospel music moved into major auditoriums, and gospel music concerts became quite elaborate. In 1950, black gospel was featured at Carnegie Hall when Joe Bostic produced the Negro Gospel and Religious Music Festival. He repeated it the next year with an expanded list of performing artists, and in 1959 moved to Madison Square Garden. Today, black gospel and white gospel are distinct genres, with distinct audiences. In white gospel, there is a large Gospel Music Association and a Gospel Music Hall of Fame, which includes a few black artists, such as Mahalia Jackson, but which ignores most black artists. In the black community, James Cleveland established the Gospel Music Workshop of America in 1969.
Christian country music, sometimes referred to as country gospel music, is a subgenre of gospel music with a country flair, is also known as inspirational country. Christian country over the years has progressed into a mainstream country sound with inspirational or positive country lyrics. In the mid-1990s, Christian country hit its highest popularity. So much so that mainstream artists like Larry Gatlin, Charlie Daniels and Barbara Mandrell, just to name a few, began recording music that had this positive Christian country flair. These mainstream artists have now become award winners in this genre.
British black gospel refers to Gospel music of the African diaspora, which has been produced in the UK. It is also often referred to as urban contemporary gospel or UK Gospel. The distinctive sound is heavily influenced by UK street culture with many artists from the African and Caribbean majority black churches in the UK. The genre has gained recognition in various awards such as the GEM (Gospel Entertainment Music) Awards, MOBO Awards, Urban Music Awards and has its own Official Christian & Gospel Albums Chart.
Some proponents of "standard" hymns generally dislike gospel music of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. For example, Patrick and Sydnor complain that commercial success led to a proliferation of such music, and "deterioration, even in a standard which to begin with was not high, resulted." They went on to say, "there is no doubt that a deterioration in taste follows the use of this type of hymn and tune; it fosters an attachment to the trivial and sensational which dulls and often destroys sense of the dignity and beauty which best befit the song that is used in the service of God."
Gold reviewed the issue in 1958, and collected a number of quotations similar to the complaints of Patrick and Syndor. However, he also provided this quotation: "Gospel hymnody has the distinction of being America's most typical contribution to Christian song. As such, it is valid in its inspiration and in its employment."
Today, with historical distance, there is a greater acceptance of such gospel songs into official denominational hymnals. For example, the United Methodist Church made this acceptance explicit in The Faith We Sing, a 2000 supplement to the official denominational hymnal. In the preface, the editors say, "Experience has shown that some older treasures were missed when the current hymnals were compiled."
Media related to Gospel music at Wikimedia Commons
Andraé Edward Crouch (July 1, 1942 – January 8, 2015) was an American gospel singer, songwriter, arranger, record producer and pastor. Referred to as "the father of modern gospel music" by contemporary Christian and gospel music professionals, Crouch was known for his compositions "The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power", "My Tribute (To God Be the Glory)" and "Soon and Very Soon". He collaborated on some of his recordings with artists, such as Stevie Wonder, El DeBarge, Philip Bailey, Chaka Khan, Sheila E. and vocal group Take 6, and many recording artists covered his material, including, Bob Dylan, Barbara Mandrell, Paul Simon, Elvis Presley and Little Richard. In the 1980s and 1990s, he was known as the "go to" producer for superstars who sought a gospel choir sound in their recordings, appearing on a number of recordings by including Michael Jackson's "Man In The Mirror", Madonna's "Like a Prayer", and "The Power", a duet between Elton John and Little Richard. Crouch was noted for his talent of incorporating contemporary secular music styles into the gospel music he grew up with. His efforts in this area helped pave the way for early American contemporary Christian music during the 1960s and 1970s.Crouch's original music arrangements were heard in the films The Color Purple, for which he received an Oscar nomination, and Disney's The Lion King, as well as the NBC television series Amen. Awards and honors received by him include seven Grammy Awards, induction into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1998, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.Christian country music
Christian country music (sometimes marketed as country gospel, gospel country, positive country or inspirational country) is music that is written to express either personal or a communal belief regarding Christian life, as well as (in terms of the varying music styles) to give a Christian alternative to mainstream secular music. Christian country music is a form of Christian music and a subgenre of both Gospel music and Country music.
Like other forms of music the creation, performance, significance, and even the definition of Christian country music varies according to culture and social context. It is composed and performed for many purposes, ranging from aesthetic pleasure, religious or ceremonial purposes with a positive message, or as an entertainment product for the marketplace. However, a common theme as with most Christian music is praise, worship or thanks to God and/or Christ.GMA Dove Award
A Dove Award is an accolade by the Gospel Music Association (GMA) of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement in the Christian music industry. The awards are presented annually. Formerly held in Nashville, Tennessee, the Dove Awards took place in Atlanta, Georgia during 2011 and 2012, but has since moved back to Nashville. The ceremonies feature live musical performances and are broadcast on TBN.
The awards were established in 1969, and represent a variety of musical styles, including rock, pop, hip hop, country, and urban.Gospel Music Association
The Gospel Music Association (GMA) was founded in 1964 for the purpose of supporting and promoting the development of all forms of Gospel music. There are currently about 4,000 members worldwide (GMA 2010). The GMA provides a network in which artists, industry leaders, retail stores, radio stations, concert promoters and local churches can coordinate their efforts for the purpose of benefiting the Christian music industry.Gospel Music Hall of Fame
The Gospel Music Hall of Fame, created in 1971 by the Gospel Music Association, is a Hall of Fame dedicated exclusively to recognizing meaningful contributions by individuals and groups in all forms of gospel music.Gospel blues
Gospel blues or holy blues is a form of blues-based gospel music that has been around since the inception of blues music, a combination of blues guitar and evangelistic lyrics. Notable gospel blues performers include Blind Willie Johnson, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Reverend Gary Davis and Washington Phillips. Blues musicians such as Boyd Rivers, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Charley Patton, Sam Collins, Josh White, Blind Boy Fuller, Blind Willie Mctell, Bukka White, Sleepy John Estes and Skip James have recorded a fair number of Gospel and religious songs, these were often commercially released under a pseudonym.
Blues musicians who became devout, or even practicing clergy, include Reverend Robert Wilkins and Ishman Bracey.Grammy Award for Best Gospel Album
The Grammy Award for Best Gospel Album is an honor presented at the Grammy Awards, a ceremony that was established in 1958 and originally called the Gramophone Awards, to recording artists for quality albums in the Gospel music genre. Honors in several categories are presented at the ceremony annually by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to "honor artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry, without regard to album sales or chart position".The Best Gospel Album award was one of the new categories created after a major overhaul of the Grammy Awards categories for 2012. This award combines recordings that were previously submitted for the Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album, Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album and Best Traditional Gospel Album.The Recording Academy decided to make a distinction between Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) and Gospel music after determining that there were "two distinct wings to the gospel house: Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) and Urban or Soul Gospel. Additionally, it was determined that the word "Gospel" tends to conjure up the images and sounds of traditional soul gospel and not CCM. With this in mind, it was decided not only to rename each of the categories, but also the entire [genre] field. [It] was determined that album and songwriting categories are of highest importance; Gospel and CCM each now have one category for each". As a result, the previous gospel album categories were combined into the Best Gospel Album (for soul and urban contemporary gospel music) and Best Contemporary Christian Music Album categories.Hard bop
Hard bop is a subgenre of jazz that is an extension of bebop (or "bop") music. Journalists and record companies began using the term in the mid-1950s to describe a new current within jazz which incorporated influences from rhythm and blues, gospel music, and blues, especially in saxophone and piano playing.
David H. Rosenthal contends in his book Hard Bop that the genre is, to a large degree, the natural creation of a generation of African-American musicians who grew up at a time when bop and rhythm and blues were the dominant forms of black American music. Prominent hard bop musicians included Horace Silver, Clifford Brown, Charles Mingus, Art Blakey, Cannonball Adderley, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk and Tadd Dameron.
Hard bop is sometimes referred to as "funky hard bop." The "funky" label refers to the rollicking, rhythmic feeling associated with the style. The descriptor is also used to describe soul jazz, which is commonly associated with hard bop. According to Mark C. Gridley, soul jazz more specifically refers to music with "an earthy, bluesy melodic concept and... repetitive, dance-like rhythms.... Note that some listeners make no distinction between 'soul-jazz' and 'funky hard bop,' and many musicians don't consider 'soul-jazz' to be continuous with 'hard bop.'" The term "soul" suggests the church, and traditional gospel music elements such as "amen chords" (the plagal cadence) and triadic harmonies that seemed to suddenly appear in jazz during the era.List of programs broadcast by Up
The following is a list of programs broadcast by Up, an independently owned family-oriented cable and satellite television network, featuring a mix of secular and religious programming.RCA Inspiration
RCA Inspiration (formerly Verity Records) is a gospel music group operating under Sony Music.Shirley Caesar
Shirley Ann Caesar-Williams, known professionally as Shirley Caesar (born October 13, 1938 in Durham, North Carolina), is an American Gospel music singer, songwriter and recording artist whose career has spanned over six decades. A multi-award-winning artist, with twelve Grammy Awards along with Dove Awards and Stellar Awards to her credit, she is known as the "First Lady of Gospel Music" and "The Queen of Gospel Music."
She began recording at the age of 12 in 1951 on the Federal recording label Shirley Caesar has released over forty albums. She has participated in over 16 compilations and three gospel musicals, Mama I Want to Sing, Sing: Mama 2 and Born to sing: Mama 3. She is also the creator of the #unameit challenge, which occurred during one of her song sermonettes. She opened her eponymous store and plans on using the profits to help others during the holiday season.
Caesar's credits also include a series of commercials for MCI Communications and numerous awards for her recordings. She has won 12 Grammy Awards (including the grammy lifetime achievement award), 14 Stellar Awards, 18 Doves, 1 RIAA gold certification, an Essence Award, McDonald's Golden Circle Lifetime Achievement Award, NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award, SESAC Lifetime Achievement Award, Rhapsody & Rhythm Award from the National Museum of African American Music, as well as induction into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. According to Soundscan, she has sold 2.2 million albums since 1991. She has made several notable appearances, including the televised Live from Disney World Night of Joy, the Gospel According to VH1, a White House performance for George Bush, and a speech on the Evolution of Gospel Music to the US Treasury Department. In 2017, Caesar was honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award from The Recording Academy.Southern gospel
Southern gospel music is a genre of Christian music. Its name comes from its origins in the Southeastern United States whose lyrics are written to express either personal or a communal faith regarding biblical teachings and Christian life, as well as (in terms of the varying music styles) to give a Christian alternative to mainstream secular music. Sometimes known as "quartet music" for its traditional "four men and a piano" set up, southern gospel has evolved over the years into a popular form of music across the United States and overseas, especially among baby boomers and those living in the Southern United States. Like other forms of music the creation, performance, significance, and even the definition of southern gospel varies according to culture and social context. It is composed and performed for many purposes, ranging from aesthetic pleasure, religious or ceremonial purposes, or as an entertainment product for the marketplace.Sparrow Records
Sparrow Records is a Christian music record label and a division of Universal Music Group.The Imperials
The Imperials are an American Christian music group that has been active for over 50 years. Originating as a southern gospel quartet, the innovative group would become pioneers of contemporary Christian music in the 1960s. There have been many changes for the band in membership and musical styles over the years. They would go on to win four Grammys, and be inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.The Statler Brothers
The Statler Brothers (sometimes simply referred to The Statlers) were an American country music, gospel, and vocal group. The quartet was formed in 1955 performing locally and, in 1964, they began singing backup for Johnny Cash.
Originally performing gospel music at local churches, the group billed themselves as The Four Star Quartet, and later The Kingsmen. In 1963, when the song "Louie, Louie" by the garage rock band also called The Kingsmen became famous, the group elected to bill themselves as The Statler Brothers. Despite the name, only two members of the group (Don and Harold Reid) are actual brothers and none has the surname of Statler. The band, in fact, named themselves after a brand of facial tissue they had noticed in a hotel room (they joked that they could have turned out to be the Kleenex Brothers). Don Reid sang lead; Harold Reid, Don's older brother, sang bass; Phil Balsley sang baritone; and Lew DeWitt sang tenor and was the guitarist of the Statlers before being replaced by Jimmy Fortune in 1983 due to DeWitt's ill health. DeWitt continued to perform as a solo artist until his death on August 15, 1990, from heart and kidney disease.The band's style was closely linked to their gospel roots. "We took gospel harmonies," said Harold Reid, "and put them over in country music."The group remained closely tied to their gospel roots, with a majority of their records containing at least one gospel song. They produced several albums containing only gospel music and recorded a tribute song to the Blackwood Brothers, who influenced their music. The Statler Brothers also wrote a tribute song to Johnny Cash, who discovered them. The song was called "We Got Paid by Cash", and it reminisces about their time with Cash.Thomas A. Dorsey
Thomas Andrew Dorsey (July 1, 1899 – January 23, 1993) was an American musician. Dorsey was known as "the father of black gospel music" and was at one time so closely associated with the field that songs written in the new style were sometimes known as "dorseys". Dorsey was the music director at Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago, Illinois, from 1932 until the late–1970s.
Dorsey's best-known composition, "Take My Hand, Precious Lord", was performed by Mahalia Jackson and was a favorite of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Another composition, "Peace in the Valley", was a hit for Red Foley in 1951 and has been performed by dozens of other artists, including Albertina Walker (the "Queen of Gospel"), Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. The Library of Congress added his album Precious Lord: New Recordings of the Great Songs of Thomas A. Dorsey (1973) to the United States National Recording Registry in 2002.Traditional black gospel
Traditional black gospel is music that is written to express either personal or a communal belief regarding African American Christian life, as well as (in terms of the varying music styles) to give a Christian alternative to mainstream secular music. It is a form of Christian music and a subgenre of gospel music.
Like other forms of music the creation, performance, significance, and even the definition of gospel music varies according to culture and social context. It is composed and performed for many purposes, ranging from aesthetic pleasure, religious or ceremonial purposes, or as an entertainment product for the marketplace. However, a common theme as with most Christian music is praise, worship or thanks to God and Christ.Traditional gospel music was popular in the mid-20th century. It is the primary source for urban contemporary gospel and Christian hip hop, which rose in popularity during the very late 20th century and early 21st century.Up (TV channel)
Up TV (stylized as UP; formerly GMC TV and originally Gospel Music Channel) is an American digital cable and satellite television network that was founded to have a focus on gospel music. It has expanded into family-friendly original movies, series, and specials. Up TV is owned by InterMedia Partners. The name and logo are a reference to Uplifting Entertainment, one of the channel's content providers.
As of February 2015, the channel is available to approximately 67.6 million pay television households (58.1% of households with television) in the United States.Urban contemporary gospel
Urban/contemporary gospel is a modern form of Christian music that expresses either personal or a communal belief regarding Christian life, as well as to give a Christian alternative to mainstream secular music. Musically, it follows the trends in secular urban contemporary music.
Urban/contemporary gospel is a recent subgenre of gospel music. Christian hip hop is a subtype of urban/contemporary gospel music. Although the style developed gradually, early forms are generally dated to the 1970s, and the genre was well established by the end of the 1980s.
The radio format is pitched primarily to African-American young adults.