Birth of Gospel

Gospel music birthed from Negro spirituals remains one of the most influential genres in the world offering hope and faith for many throughout the continued suppression of the African American society and imposed systems of oppression.

Beginning of Gospel

Gospel music is the twentieth-century’s form of African American religious music that began in urban cities at the start of the Great Migration of African Americans from the South. African Americans moved from the South to establish a better way of life socially and economically. The struggle for better catalyzed the form of expression known as gospel. Expression of faith, hope, and pain is nothing new to Black people; from the Ring shout to negro spirituals, African Americans are familiar with religious expression in many forms, especially music. Blues and religious zeal were two merging elements that allowed for the rise of gospel music, which played, in turn, played an essential role in the sustaining of the African American community. Even though African Americans were moving from the South to the North in astounding numbers, the worship, and style that distinguished Black independent churches in the rural South remained the same. While protestant hymns and occasionally negro spirituals remained a part of the repertoire, a new genre was added, referenced as gospel hymns and often referred to as jazz hymns. 

Cultivation of Gospel

Gospel music was born from the traditional hymns and spirituals songs the Africans sang during the slave era. However, over time gospel began to incorporate traits of what was considered secular music, country music, blues, jazz, and ragtime, which made the gospel music the entertaining genre it was and remains. Thomas Dorsey known as “Father of Gospel Music” and he is accredited for spawning a movement that popularized gospel blues and jazz and devoting his career to the development of gospel. There was much resistance from the formation of gospel music, as most reverends felt that gospel could only be preached, not sung. From the efforts of Thomas A. Dorsey and the potential he saw in Black American gospel music to the storefront church gospel music was consciously ushered into popular culture.

Gospel Now...

Gospel music has evolved from the original form of the hymns and has become known on a global level. However, as the gospel music genre has evolved, it has become understood as much more than text but has become understood as a feeling that evokes profound emotion. Among African Americans, gospel music now associates a specific body of composed repertoire and a performance style that can be overlayed upon other genres, particularly spirituals and hymns.

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