God is Good, All the Time

Gospel music began to gain popularity in the 1930s. Following emancipation, African American composers wrote songs that focused on biblical themes and spirituals. African American communities migrated from rural to urban areas, bringing their worship with them. The shift from spiritual to Gospel was easily identifiable in songs recorded between the 1930s and 40s.

Thomas A. Dorsey was a very important person in the development of Gospel. He is often referred to as the father of Gospel Music and before then he was a well known blues and jazz composer and pianist. Dorsey partnered with Mahalia Jackson to take their reformed Christian music to mainstream Chicago.

In its early development, Gospel music only featured a piano,  organ, and male quartet were very popular, which led to the development of the quartets of Fisk and Hampton. They usually sung a cappella and in the 40s there was the addition of a 5th singer and a guitar.

“O Happy Day” by Edwin Hawkins began the introduction of Gospel to mainstream music. Since then, Gospel songs today are more harmonically complex and are usually performed solo, or by small groups. There is a great diversity of the groups in age, gender, and race. Gospel continues its popular impact on today’s music listeners. 

Popular Gospel Artists

  • Tasha Cobbs
  • Koryn Hawthorne
  • Travis Greene
  • Tamela Mann
  • Marvin Sapp
  • Anthony Brown
  • Todd Dulaney
  • Kirk Franklin
  • Jonathan McReynolds
  • Tori Kelly
  • Jekalyn Carr
  • Charlie Wilson
  • Maranda Curtis
  • Brian Wilson