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Giannina Montoya GEEN 2313 Prof.

Emily Almansa 25 November 2008 The Impacts of Gospel Music I was born and raised in a Christian home; therefore, all I would listen to was Christian music. Music has been my biggest passion my entire life. I could be doing anything during the day and at the same time find myself singing. For me, singing would be impossible to quit because it is simply something that my soul shouts out for. This is one of the reasons why I decided to study music in college and I have to accept that some music styles caught all of my attention because of their uniqueness, like Gospel Music. Even though some might differ from my point of view, Gospel Music has made a positive impact on people throughout history thanks to its Christian roots. I have no doubt about it. Some say it is because this is a complex music style originated by black people. But for those who know Gospel, must understand why such a passion burns inside of me and comes out when I speak about this with such a selfconfidence. It is just that Gospel Music is not only nice music with roots planted in the Protestant Church. I believe it also means revolution, change, evolution, controversy; musically, socially, and religiously speaking. To introduce some details related to the points I just brought, I can say that as a music student, Gospels complexity for musicians as for singers is huge. It makes us want to practice, listen to it over and over and learn more about it.

Montoya 2 Religiously speaking, it took many Protestants out of the box where they thought that there were prohibited tunes that came from the devil. Gospel music demonstrated that music comes from God just for the fact of being music. It was a Christian group that started all this, so who can say that the God they served did not inspire them? Now, socially speaking, most people were not only impressed by the sound of Gospel Music, but they started to like it, listen to it and accept it as another great advance in commercial and non commercial music. Charles Humbard (GMC President) recently referred to Gospel Music saying: The response we got from everybody was sort of beyond belief (Price 1). And this is how it has been from the beginning. It is impossible to talk about Gospel Music and its positive impact in people without considering the importance of its development throughout history. Everything Gospel Music has reached today is thanks to what it was yesterday. If we could go back in history and experience what I will talk about in the following paragraphs, we would be more than surprised, because it has always been controversial. This music style has never depended on a certain industry to be alive, but on the circumstances going on. It is not waiting to empty peoples pocket but to fill their souls. I will take this opportunity to mention Gospel Musics bad brother: the Blues. We cannot talk about Gospel without bringing up some information about the Blues. While Gospel was making its first steps, there were those who maintained, even insisted upon, the separation of sacred and secular music. At first, there were those in the Christian religious community who saw the Blues as the devils music. We encounter in the history of the Blues a variety of performers who have included Blues and Gospel Music in their repertoires, though frequently discreetly and with particular audiences in mind. Gospel Music is strongly formulaic in many respects. Gospel performances are more likely to reach an audience

Montoya 3 a higher percentage of which is African American, possibly in part due to the personal nature of religious affiliations on the one hand and the role that religion plays in establishing and maintaining group identity and cohesiveness on the other, though inevitably an element or racism is also reflected in such willful separation (Gentry 79). Even though Gospel and Blues both symbolize the beginning of something fresh, new, different, and shocking for most people, they were separated by this one thing. One day, the 18th century evangelist Rowland Hill asked: Why should the devil have all the good tunes? In a plea for hymns that would rival the popular music of this day (Gentry 79). When he asked that question, many people felt something new was arriving for Christian Music. What they did not know was that Gospel Music would change the history of our world forever. One area in which these songs demonstrate the degree of originality necessary for it to become memorable to a particular audience is in the types of images to be found in its lyrics. This has characterized the genre, it has found and showed the people the music they need and want to hear. I found my favorite description of Gospel Music origins on Moore and Reagons books. On page 1, Moore coincides with Reagon on page 3 that: Gospel Music emerged within oral traditions of African American culture, embodying interpretation of, and responses to, experience in the sacred realm. It was then taken up by the music industry and disseminated particularly from the 1920. We know them through recordings, particularly, but their surrounding circumstances we know through writings. Compared to other music styles, Gospel has both a longer and shorter history. Longer, in that its roots can be more easily observed, because committed to paper, in the music used by the earliest European settlers. Shorter, because the term itself is of recent origin. The earliest sacred songs were a form of security, a

Montoya 4 basis for trust among those carving out a new existence in a foreign land. The continuity involved here was less with the culture they had left behind, than with the faith they had taken with them. Moore continues on page 5 saying that: At first, evangelization among blacks was slow, an ideology of equality sat uneasily alongside a culture which could not operate without slave labor. Nonetheless, by the early nineteenth century, black congregations could be found, some of whom expressed their faith musically in an amalgam of both European and African practices. Somehow thanks to Gospel Music, the split which existed in secular culture (between middle class and working blacks, between North and South, between white and black) was to a certain extent played out in the sacred realm too. It is interesting how Gospel Music opens doors in important stages of the Protestant Movement. According to Don Cusic, who cooperated with the writing of Moores Book: At this time, all institutional mediacy between an individuals soul and the Redeemer must be rejected. All, no matter what their station in life, had access to God (6). Moore on page 48 and Darden on page 52 agree when they claim: Although the term Gospel may only have come into common usage since the 1940s, gospel scholarship has a much longer history. Right here Id like to say that in a way or another, the term Gospel wanted to secure this type of music to be only played by and at church. Gospel songs, while opportunities for the display of abilities, were used as mediation between groups of oppressed individuals and a concrete, substantial, God. What is now called Gospel Music, finds its first steps in Psalms and Hymns (with the Christian beliefs of the first colonizers of America). In this part of history, we should remember that in the eighteenth century, a secularization of sacred music occurred and would not only help make this kind of music more appealing to a wide

Montoya 5 public, but also carry it outside the church where it would stand alone outside the worship. We must also mention the Spirituals, created by people bound in slavery. Spirituals raised when they needed a faith that was vibrant and alive, full of emotion and comfort. Thus, it was a free religion that took hold. The crowds at these gatherings had to sing from memory or learn songs that were easily repetitive and took little effort to learn, because there were no song books. Here, the revival songs were in the hands of the people as the real exhortational activity. Praying, mourning and other physical exercises, was by and for the crowd (unlike the first years of history in white church). This led to the development of revival songs with repetitive passages. Sometimes revival songs were about a repetitive chorus or a call and response where the line was sung by the singer and the crowd sang the responding line. This was the revolutionary time when the oral tradition took over in religious music. Gospel Music not only relieves hearts at a precise difficult moment in life for people. During this changing period in this music that weve been talking about so far, we can say that they are timeless songs because of the repetitiveness but also because of their emotional appeal. They are songs that can inspire joy or comfort in sorrow, a verbalizing of peoples feelings and thoughts. Within this songs are the roots of Blues, Country, Modern Gospel and Rock n Roll. According to Moore on pages 50- 51: The history of Gospel Music in the South of the United States differs from that of the North, primarily because of the agricultural economy of the South. Many white Christian perpetuated the myth that blacks were descendants of the biblical Ham, wicked son of Noah, and that their bondage was a mark of sin from God. There was, however, some early concern among white colonial Christians about the salvation of blacks. Some even doubt that black people had souls. The belief that African blacks were slaves

Montoya 6 because God had ordained it was a concept many American whites openly embraced and promulgated. The conversion of blacks was guided by the same principles as those of whites: each individual was expected to confront God and make his decision for Jesus or get a religion. Moore (49) and Darden (53) affirm that: The slaves made a number of conscious attempts to reproduce the songs they heard but often sang these songs in a different manner, affecting rhythms which were different from the original and, because of an insufficient vocabulary or inability to recall the words correctly, different from white speech. Musically, this Christian music was separated because of the differences in the black and white cultures and the particular aptitude of African Americans for rhythms. It was more than just a different melody; it was a whole new rhythm, an entirely new feel to the songs which became defined as black gospel. Even though the blacks and whites often sang the same words, learned from the same sources, the results were two entirely different songs, with the black gospel songs rhythmically in a way the white songs never were. Still, the blacks Gospel Music was virtually ignored by white Christians and it was not until the twentieth century that denominational hymnals included them. Moore keeps going with his description of Gospel Music origins and on page 55 he writes: Later on, Pentecostal congregations, characterized by this intense emotionalism in the worship service, developed all over the country, especially among the poor and depressed. In this movement, people are liable to scream, shout, dance, jump or roll on the floor for Jesus. Here the people are not to this world but free to act or say whatever God wants done or said, using the individuals voice and body. Singing and dancing now covered most of the time in service. These churches were the first to use musical instruments, even those that churches had

Montoya 7 long considered of the devil. White churches generally rejected the intense emotional involvement and extreme physical activities the Pentecostal churches introduced as a regular part of their services. This Gospel Music played here followed the purpose of bringing peace and freedom to those attending church so it will enable the congregation to face six hard, troublesome weekdays. However, the Black Gospel Music tradition that has evolved really began to take form at the beginning of the twentieth century, when African American began to publish their own music. As Black Gospel was recorded and released, these singers could establish national reputations and influence others who would never have seen or heard them otherwise. This served to unify black gospel and increasingly by the style and rhythms, and often copied some of the songs and bought some of the records. The feeling Gospel Music has, which is uniquely black, comes from a deep- felt emotionalism anchored in the African American experience and a certain hopelessness in their earthly life that is balanced with a shining hopefulness in their life to come. The inspiration of trouble, sorrow, thanksgiving and joy in addition to the highly individualistic style of the singers distinguishes black gospel from white. The same song is rarely ever sung the same way twice, with an emphasis on improvisation within the song causing each performance to be a wholly different experience for both singer and audience. Blacks have been inspired to express their own culture, rather than simply to be black versions of white churches. This has meant that black churches evolution to a mainstream denomination has greatly differed from that of their white counterparts.

Montoya 8 Even the secular movement was impacted with Gospel Music. They actually started imitating and combining it with some of their music styles. By the way, the Christian church was offended when this happened. The church always complained against the secular singers and musicians who played Gospel Music. Christians emphasized that Gospel Music was born inside the Church and should be only played for sacred purposes. Anything could evolve in it as long as it was for church purposes. On the other hand, I have always heard about some Gospel singers like Mahalia Jackson who were often tempted by others to use their rich and powerful vocal talents to sing music other than Gospel during her career. However, the church was embedded in her too deeply and, wracked by guilt, she returned to Gospel, where she was clearly most comfortable musically, spiritually, and emotionally. We also have Ray Charles, a veteran into the recording studio got in trouble when he took a traditional Gospel song, put some secular lyrics to it, and delivered it (Moore 59). In part, this opened the doors for the initiation of other music styles such as R&B and Rock n Roll, which are more known as pop music. Something I find appropriate to add at this point is a quote from J. S. Hancock that I once heard. This Gospel Music lover once said: When Im not feeling too keen I can think of these songs and feel betterYou know a man that will sing these gospel songs wont be a bad man. It was clear that Gospel implied benevolence for those who performed it. I understand and agree with this point of view because Gospel performers always have had to operate under a certain social, cultural, political and economic condition, taking all these to the religious level, of course.

Montoya 9 Yashira L. Guidini is a 23 years old woman who will soon graduate from the Inter American Popular Music program. She has been a Gospel singer and musician since she was a child and is actually the music leader at her church. For years, she has traveled to many cities and countries around the world singing and playing Gospel Music. Yashira captures everyones attention once the first Gospel note comes out of her mouth and starts playing the first chord on her piano. I have the privilege to know her as a friend and in this occasion I had an interview with her. She told me about her opinion and experience with Gospel Music and here is what I found most interesting for my research: Part of the Gospel Music origins has to do with the Spirituals. This music came as a consequence of slavery; it was their way of expressing what they were feeling since they were really suffering. Many of them were not allowed to have their own religion so the Spirituals were everything they had. Musically speaking, its basis was easy for people to memorize, the idea was that they could follow the music and sing along with it. But later on, Gospel Music developed in an amazing way, turning into a very complex music style. Gospel means freedom. Every person gives his or her own color to it. I guess that is my favorite part of it. Each person executes Gospel with a unique personality and experience that no other has. It is a rich genre and kind of like an infinite style in my opinion. When it comes to vocals, you need to have the Gospel background, listen to it and know what it is about in order to perform like a real Gospel musician. Its lyrics are profound, they are composed by the experiences and how God showed up through them. Many contemporary singers of different genres have come out of church. Gospel Music gave birth to strong roots which upon people sing nowadays. Many Gospel songs have been translated to other languages just like Andrae Crouchs. His songs are being sung everywhere! In society and the secular world, people love

Montoya 10 Gospel Music, everyone recognizes its beat! This is revolutionary! It is an open music style, free, open for everyone; it just reaches peoples heart! Yashira strengthen my theories with everything she said. According to Jackson on page 21 and Moore on page 60: This African American style has and will eventually keep transforming American culture. There was also sometimes a burden for the African American performer with regard to the image it was necessary to project in public and on stage. After all, in American society, high profile blacks were frequently held up as representatives of their race by whites, and expected to uphold the image of the race by black leaders. There is a continuity of consciousness that flows through various aspects of African American culture, and this continuity is evident in Gospel Music. Yet for almost one hundred years, African American Gospel practitioners have reacted creatively to a multitude of new conditions in their lives. Thus, the resultant development of dynamic styles of performance illustrates both continuity and change, since many of the aesthetic values and musical practices intrinsic to Gospel Music represent a definite link with the traditional past. There have been large changes and progress in Black Gospel and this has brought it closer to mainstream music and allowed many gospel groups to sound more like the polished performers heard on the radio. Black Gospel does not have the network or organization for its music like White Gospel. The changing nature of Gospel Music can be described similarly to the way the expert Lawrence W. Levine describes the nature of culture: Culture is not a fixed condition but a process: the product of interaction between the past and present. Its toughness and resiliency are determined not by a culture's ability to withstand change, which indeed may

Montoya 11 be a sign of stagnation not life, but by its ability to react creatively and responsively to the realities of a new situation (Jackson 2). It could be said over and over that when it comes to music, rhythmically speaking, African influenced genres styles, are considered tremendously complex. In the case of Gospel Music, not only its rhythm but harmonically, it represents a challenge. We can see how Gospel Music has been present in peoples heart (not only gospel singers and musicians) during crucial times in history. Its been a way for Christian people to pour out their heart to society while life goes on and on with its happy and painful moments. When we listen to Gospel Music well undeniably feel the power and passion this music is made with. The singers sing loud, play acrobatically with their voices; they actually mean what theyre singing, like if each word has life. If you close your eyes and listen to Gospel Music, youll still feel the extreme energy in it, because it is not just the way they project themselves on stage but the expression that every note sang carries. Same thing with the musicians, every note, every chord, every melody, the whole beat is filled with the same enthusiasm, like if it was the last thing theyll do on earth. On pages 37- 38 from Prices book I found: "We want to be excellent," says Tina Campbell, a Gospel Singer. "We want to be contemporary. We want to be current with the times. We want to be relevant. We want to represent God's people very well. But we also want to introduce souls that don't know God." Gospel Music brings a word of truth and hope during this time just like it has done ever since it started. People are paying more attention to it in its different branches. Another confirmation for the importance of maintaining the music today is the growing prevalence of twenty-four-hour gospel stations. There has also been a rise in

Montoya 12 Gospel Music publications. Though brief and some of them without citations, their articles and news items are valuable because of their descriptive accounts of events and informative interviews with performing artists and groups. Collins published a compilation of interviews made to Gospel Music performers or people who are involved with it and on page 19 we can read the following: Charles Humbard (GMC President) and Brad Siegel (GMC Vice chairman) have announced: We just had success with everybody really stepping up and responding in a very supportive way to really help us do this, referring to Gospel Music channel debut in 2004. Commenting on the same topic, Brian Spears said: Sure, were seeing an increase in sales and on an interview made to Larry Robinson where the topic was the actual economic crisis, social problems and Gospel Music he said: A lot of people seemed to turn back toward the church and looked to Gospel. A person who has been found in the same situation and has a very profound opinion about this is Don McClurkin, who led in industry sales in 2001 and who has received peoples support to release new cds all the time. He said in 2002: People are looking for me to repeat or surpass the success of my records, and Im feeling the heat. But I am more committed to the premise that we cant have Gospel Music without God and to keeping God first. According to the contemporary Gospel singer Carla Williams: People want music that applies to their lives, with regard to what theyre going through. Many have lost their jobs or are looking for something deeper. Artists are less concerned with the styles, more with the message and its impacts. Our sales have been consistent if not higher across the board. More importantly, we believe that we were prepared to minister to that crisis. Our artists were called upon to provide leadership an insight.

Montoya 13 I can affirm that the present and future of Gospel Music are pretty promising, contrary to what some people said in the past. For years it has been part of an evolution and has been accepted by musicians as great complex music, by Christians as medicine for their soul, by people as amazing music to listen to and by commerce as a good product to sale. However we look at this, this style of music has been positively controversial in many ways. I recently read a comment on the internet: "Nothing to me inspires like Gospel Music, said by Kelly, a 35-yearold systems analyst. So there is no doubt that African American Gospel Music will continue to exist as a changing expression of cultural identity. It remains one of the most genuine forms of the community's expression of values and esthetics. Despite the influence and popularity of some performers, Gospel Music has remained essentially African American. This is due to the fact that the music is an intricate part of Gospel and thus cannot be totally separated from the African American church and subsequently from centuries of the African experience in America. But I love to mention that Gospel music continues to speak to and for people of African roots in the vernacular as a dynamic expressive form of folk spirituality and creativity, including us as Latinos. Not everyone likes sports, science or politics. But everyone loves music, and during this time in life when things are getting tough, people will want to listen to music styles like Gospel, where they can truly change and find hope, thanks to Christ. Theres a lot to be said about the past, present, and future of Gospel Music. I think what I wrote here is just a small amount of what we should and could study about this subject to amplify our knowledge about it. Gospel Music is just wonderful!