Tell it!
Sing it!
Shout it!

The word Gospel is an elision of 'God' and 'spel' (The old English for story). The genre is distinguished primarily by spontaneity and informality, qualities which, while sometimes arousing suspicion or unease, have been present since the very beginnings of the Christian faith. By a further arbitrary use of the term, however, Gospel music is considered to have begun in the United States, sometimes in the 19th century, first appearing in print in 1874 with the publication of Gospel Songs by Philip Bliss.
That was a time of extraordinary Christian revival. While impassioned sermons were being preached to vast meetings in the burgeoning new cities of North America, the pentecostal black communities of the Holiness and Sanctified churches multiplied. Alongside the nationally organized institutions, the black ghettos nurtured independant churches like the Atlanta's Highway and Hedges Fire Baptized or Chicago's Widow's Mite Holiness. Here the African-American worshippers enjoyed the long-established traditions of improvisation in sermon and music, the continual dialogue between pastor and flock formalized in musical paterns of call-and-response, and at some point the "shout" - ecstacy-inducing music and dance. One 19the century observer described an American service thus, "After the sermon they began singing merrily, and continued without stopping, one hour, till they became exhaused and breathless, while all the time they were clapping hands, shouting and jumping".
Descriptions and illustrations give a glimpse of the worship of that time, but informality produced no written music, no marketable commodity like a concert. Indeed, to introduce this music to an audience was to change it, potentially out of all recognition. This was the case when black students from Nashville's Fisk University in Tennessee were asked in 1871 to form a choir for a fund raising tour. On the subsequent tours of the USA and Europe it was the pre-abolition plantation songs that captured the imagination of their largely white audiences. The music, however was formalized - or, more pejoratively, sanitized - by choir directors, whose musical background and training were European. These "spirituals" became an entertainment for audiences that had little interest in their powerful theology of liberation, though since then, spirituals have inspired musicians across the world, and have been re-absorbed with enthusiasm by black Gospel singers.
An unbroken and unmarketable tradition of worship music continues, however, where the motivation for the music springs from a much broader and deeper intention than entertainment. In the words of a pastor of a black pentecostal church: "The watch word is revelance. The congregation want to hear things relating to real-life situations. They want worship which is vibrant and exciting. If a church can get its message, its music, its good methods right, people will respond." The music is thus an expression of community, a celebration of life in the context of a theology with a strong social and political dimention.
A second attempt to take worship music out of the church and into the marketplace created the modern definition of Gospel. Thomas A. Dorsey was born in 1899, the son of an itinerant black Georgian preacher. In spite of an upbringing steeped in church life, Dorsey made an early career in the developing commercial world of blues, working with Ma Rainey and Tampa Red as 'Georgia Tom". In 1921 he experienced a dramatic renewal of his Christian faith through the extrovert singing and preaching of the Reverend A.W. Nix, devoting the rest of his life to writing, performing and encouraging what he came to call 'Gospel'.
Dorsey capitalized on his commercial experience, and became the first Gospel artist to market a vast audience. He founded his own publishing company, printing about 500 of his songs with the tag 'Gospel music', he charged for admission to performances, made recordings, formed the first female gospel quartet and discovered and promoted a new generation of singers including Mahalia Jackson.
After initial misgivings, churches absorbed this music finding places for both the old and new, Gospel songs being given prominence, usually next to the sermon. Dorsey's innovations created and inspired a new generation of music for various vocal combinations. Soloists, duets, trios and quartets were established - Sallie Martin, Clara Ward, Marion Williams, the Gay Sisters, the Soul Stirrers and the original Gospel Harmonettes representing the burgeoning talent of the 30's and 40's.
At this time gospel radio stations started broadcasting in the US - there are now hundreds. The balancing of a lead singer against other voices resonated with the relationship of preacher and congregation - indeed, the lead vocalist would be expected to preach as well as sing. More recently Gospel choirs have created new musical possibilities, providing an 'orchestral' backdrop to a soloist or a punchy big-band style of delivery. TV showed an interest from the 50's onwards and gospel singers started to appear in jazz festivals and cabarets.
New situations invited new styles - 'hard" gospel of the 50's and 60's replaced the lighter crooning style of the previous decades with an altogether wilder delivery, especially from the lead voice, with thigh slapping and screaming top notes. At this point gospel artists found they had aspiring rock 'n ' roll singers in their audience looking for inspiration. Indeed, the big debt that commercial music owes to Gospel starts here in earnest, influencing such figures as Elvis Presley.
The real crossover came with soul, Aretha Franklin, Sam Cooke (once of the Soul Stirrers), Ray Charles, James Brown, Marvin Gaye - all epitomized Gospel but with secular, erotic lyrics. Most black artists who recorded for Tamala Motown, hugely successful in marketing sould music in the 60's, had a Gospel background. The explotation of the Gospel manner for secular ends that scadalized the religious community came from the likes of Little Richard and Screamin' Jay Hawkins. Since then the tracks between commercial music and Gospel have worn even deeper - with Gospel itself absorbing other trends.
There is a hunger to hear Gospel music as it confronts, rather than reflects popular culture. There is still music-making springing from a Christianity that unites the life of the spirit and body, no matter what musical style: 'Black people, whereever you find them, have not been as much influenced by the ideology of the Enlightenment, one of whose effects is the split between body and soul, between reason and faith; politics and economics on one side, religion on the other. Spiritual things area about totality, things being one. At its best, Gospel expresses a totality of experience, body and soul.

The Black Gospel Blog

Dixie Hummingbirds

Tribute to gospel songwriter, producer and lead singer of The Dixie Hummingbirds, IRA TUCKER

by: eRIC Leblanc

A Tribute to the Alabama native Claude A. Jeter who founded and led the legendary gospel quartet, the Swan Silvertones.
by: eRIC Leblanc

The Helen Robinson Youth Chorus

CD Reviews

Westside 303




Gospel Singles & LP's


Gospel Singles
Series Discography

Gospel Discography
4000-4099 (1949-1958)
4100-4199 (1958-1963)

Jewel Records is Spreading the Gospel!

In what is undoubtedly the largest Gospel projects ever undertaken! With the re-issue of 33 Gospel releases on compact disc, Jewel Records is spreading the Gospel! The groups include the Soul Stirrers, Alabama Blind Boys, the Blind Boys of Mississippi, Rev. C.L. & Aretha Franklin, Rev. Oris Mays, Rev. W. Leo Daniels, Brooklyn Allstars, Violinaires, and many more...Also in this batch are 10 Sermons! 1(800) 446-2865 Call Toll Free to Order or for A FREE CATALOG!




Every week Bob Marovich will review a song which he feels belongs in anyone's ultimate gospel collection.

Weeks 1 to 10 archive

WEEK #1: "Everytime I Feel the Spirit" (arr. by Shelby Wills)
WEEK #2: "Walk Around Heaven All Day" (Cassietta George)
WEEK #3: "By and By" Parts 1 and 2 (C.A. Tindley, arr. by Crain-Harris)
WEEK #4: "More Abundantly" (Sonya Whitmore)
WEEK #5: "His Eye Is On The Sparrow" (arr. by Harvey Fuqua) Marvin Gaye
WEEK #6: "Motherless Child" (P.D.) Harmonizing Four 1957
WEEK #7: "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" (Thomas A. Dorsey) Mahalia Jackson 1956
WEEK #8: "How I Got Over" Aretha Franklin with James Cleveland
WEEK #9: "Perfect Praise" (Brenda Moore) Walt Whitman & Soul Children Of Chicago
WEEK#10 "My Rock" Swan Silvertones

Weeks 11 to 20 archive

WEEK#11 "Jesus Will Work It Out" Dr. Charles G. Hayes & the Cosmopolitan Church of Prayer
WEEK#12 "Somewhere To Lay My Head" Highway QCs; Sensational Nightingales
WEEK#13 "Open Our Eyes" Gospel Clefs
WEEK#14 "I'm So Glad" Southern Harmonaires
WEEK#15 "Said I Wasn't Gonna Tell Nobody" Abyssinian Baptist Church Choir
WEEK#16 "Peace Be Still" James Cleveland
WEEK#17 "Climbing Up The Mountain" Southwest Michigan Choir of the Church of God in Christ
WEEK#18 "City Called Heaven" Mahalia Jackson
WEEK#19 "God's Chariot" Gospel Travelers
WEEK#20 "We Are One" Walt Whitman and the Soul Children of Chicago

Weeks 21 to 40 archive

WEEK#21 "The Ball Game" Sister Wynona Carr
WEEK#22 "Safe In His Arms" Reverend Milton Brunsonand & the Thompson Community Singers
WEEK#23 "Trouble in My Way" Dixie Hummingbirds
WEEK#24 "Our Father"The Original Five Blind Boys (Jackson Harmoneers)
WEEK#25 "Right Now" Chicago Mass Choir 1990
WEEK#26 "Spiritual" from African Portraits, Jevetta Steele
WEEK#27 "Jesus I'll Never Forget" Soul Stirrers
WEEK#28 "Memphis Flu" Elders Curry and Beck
WEEK#29 "Working for the Lord" Harmonizing Four
WEEK#30 "The Lord's Prayer"Swan Silvertones
WEEK#31 "Father Don't Leave" Silver Quintette
WEEK#32 "Count Your Many Blessings" The Four Internes
WEEK#33 "The Storm is Passing Over" Roberta Martin Singers
WEEK#34 "How Sweet It Is" Bells of Joy
WEEK#35 "Order My Steps" GMWA Women of Worship
WEEK#36 "Work On, Pray On, Time Ain't Long" Voices of Cosmopolitan Church of Prayer Choir
WEEK#37 "Finally Made It In" Hightower Brothers
WEEK#38 "Move Up" Holy Gospel Singers
WEEK#39 "Walk Around" The Soul Stirrers
WEEK#40 "It's A Mean Old World" Trumpeteers

Weeks 41 to 56 archive

WEEK#41 "Blood Done Signed My Name" Radio Four
WEEK#42 "Jesus Your Love" Soul Seekers
WEEK#43 "Honey in the Rock" The Five Blind Boys of Alabama
WEEK#44 "Ride This Train" Gospelaires of Dayton, Ohio
WEEK#45 "I Can't Walk This Highway"Jackson Gospel Singers
WEEK#46 "Jesus That's My King" Kim McFarland
WEEK#47 "I Love The Lord" Whitney Houston
WEEK#48 "Softly and Tenderly" Prisonaires
WEEK#49 "Heartaches" Rev. Charles Watkins' Pentecostal Mass
WEEK#50 "Lord! Lord! Lord!" Prof. Alex Bradford and the Bradford Specials Choir
WEEK#51 "If God Gave Us Everything" The Lords of Harmony
WEEK#52 "Somebody Touched Me" Fairfield Four
WEEK#53 "Uncloudy Day" Staple Singers
WEEK#54 "Jesus is the First Line of Defense" Pilgrim Travelers
WEEK#55 "Any Stars In My Crown" Golden Harp Gospel Singers
WEEK#56 "I Dreamed Heaven was like This" Highway QCs

WEEK#57"Total Praise" Richard Smallwood with Vision
WEEK#58"I've Been Born Again"Happyland Singers
WEEK#59"Before This Time Another Year"Jimmy Jones and the Sensationals
WEEK#60"Jesus is Everywhere"Golden West Singers
WEEK#61"Don't You Want To Go"Meditation Singers
WEEK#62"Just to Behold His Face"James Cleveland
WEEK#63 "Pass Me Not"Douglas Miller and the True Way Choir
WEEK#64 "I'll Do" Heavenly Spirituals of Chicago
WEEK#65 "Something to Shout About"The Five Blind Boys
WEEK#66 "I Done Made It Up In My Mind"Swan's Silvertone Singers
WEEK#67"Try God" Rugged Cross Singers of Baltimore, MD
WEEK#68"The Green Pastures"Hall Johnson Negro Choir
WEEK#69"Jesus Gave Me Water"Original Five Blind Boys
WEEK#70"Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen"Della Reese
WEEK#71"Remember Me" The Soul Stirrers
WEEK#72"The Old Landmark"The Famous Ward Singers
WEEK#73 "I Bow on my Knees"Mahalia Jackson
WEEK#74 "Long As I Got King Jesus [Don't Need Nobody Else"]Vickie Winans
WEEK#75 "Every Day and Every Hour"Spirit of Memphis Quartet
WEEK#76 "I'm Bound for Canaan Land"The Famous Blue Jay Singers
WEEK#77 "John Saw the Number"Rev. Robert Ballinger
WEEK#78 "Goin' Up Yonder"Walter Hawkins and the Love Center Choir
WEEK#79 "When I Go"Peace Makers
WEEK#80 "Weeping for a Mighty Long Time" Original Five Blind Boys of Mississippi
WEEK#81 "How I Got Over"Mahalia Jackson
WEEK#82 "Thank You Lord"Rebecca Malope
WEEK#83 "Get Your Soul Right"Fireside Gospel Singers
WEEK#84 "Steal Away" Hulah Gene and her daughter Carolyne
WEEK#85 "God Will Take Care of You"Harmonizing Four
WEEK#86 "Don't You Know Me Thomas"Rev. H.B. Crum and the Mighty Golden Keys
WEEK#87 "Thy Grace is Sufficient for Me"Helen Robinson Youth Chorus
WEEK#88 "Will the Lord be with Me?"Dixie Hummingbirds
WEEK#89 "The Sun Didn't Shine"Golden Gate Quartet
WEEK#90 "Woke up this Morning (With Jesus on my Mind)"Violinaires
WEEK#91 "Will He Welcome Me There?"Sensational Nightingales
WEEK#92 "Daniel Saw the Stone" Pilgrim Travelers
WEEK#93 "Daniel" Georgia Sea Island Singers
WEEK#94 "Come Over Here" Royal Sons Quinte
WEEK#95 "Jesus Christ, the Baby"/"My Jesus, He's Pleased" Six Trumpets
WEEK#96 "Milky White Way" The Trumpeteers
WEEK#97 "I'm Not Afraid" Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir
WEEK#98 "Go Where You Want Me to Go" Arizona Dranes and Choir
WEEK#99 "I've Already Been to the Water" Bill Moss and the Celestials
WEEK#100"He's My Light"ARC Gospel Choir
WEEK#101"Bless This House"Mahalia Jackson
WEEK#102"Follow the Star"Edwin Hawkins
WEEK#103"Save Me"Clefs of Calvary
WEEK#104"Beautiful City"Zion Travelers
WEEK#105"My God Can Do No Wrong"Original Five Blind Boys of Alabama
WEEK#106 "(I'm Holding On) I Won't Let Go"Dorothy Love Coates and the Gospel Harmonettes
WEEK#107 "That'll Do It"Anointed
WEEK#108"God is Coming"CBS Trumpeteers
WEEK#109"Don't Cry this Christmas" Jeff Majors
WEEK#110"Jordan River"Sensational Jubilettes

Recomended Reading

Here are some books I would highly recommend to anyone wanting to know more about gospel music.

Links To Other Gospel Sites


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