Gospel music of the 1970s and 1980s

Sequoia Simmons and Lauren Forney

What is Gospel:

Gospel music is a sacred music genre that emerged in the 1920s out of a combination of sacred hymns, spirituals, shouts, jubilee quartet songs, and black devotional songs with noticeable blues and jazz rhythmic and harmonic influences. Shifting from traditional church hymns and spirituals, the 1970s brought a new energy to the Gospel genre. Gospel went beyond the four walls and of the church building, to mainstream and on the airwaves- paving a way for artists today.


The roots of Black Gospel music trace back to the spirituals once sung by slaves as they worked in the fields. When many African American communities migrated from rural to urban life during the first half of the twentieth century, they brought their worship culture with them. Echoing the ways of the single-room churches of the agrarian South, the storefront churches of the northern cities became the key setting for the development of Gospel. 

Popular Artists:

From Edwin Hawkins and Shirley Miller’s “Oh Happy Day,” which was originally recorded in 1968 and popularized in the 70s, to Andraé Crouch’s “Take Me Back,” (1975) and the Staple Singers, “I’ll Take You There,” (1972)  Gospel adapted a more modern, popular music sound  that appealed to all generations and opened doors for the next generation of Gospel artists whose beats are so appealing they may get played on secular stations, and touch the hearts of both Christians and non-believers.

Our Personal Favs of the 70's & 80's:

  • Oh Happy Day by Edwin Hawkins & Shirley Miller 
  • The Blood Will Never Lose its Power by Andraé Crouch
  • Hallelujah by The Clark Sisters
  • Come on in the Room by The Georgia Mass Choir
  • There’s A Balm in Gilead by The Clark Sisters 
  • Blessed and Highly Favored by The Clark Sisters 
  • I’ve Been in the Storm Too Long by The Mighty Clouds of Joy
  • Lean On Me by Bill Withers


The Clark Sisters:

Mississippi Mass Choir:

Edwin Hawkins:

Andrae Crouch:

Walter Hawkins:

Aretha Franklin:

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