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Gospel Music: Then and Now…

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The Evolution of Gospel.

Gospel music first emerged as spirituals from the combining of West African musical traditions, the experiences of slavery, Christian practices, and the hardships associated with life in the South. Over time, as the influence of the African-American church grew and musical groups called quartets began to form the musical genre of Gospel expanded. Some basic elements of Gospel music, include “call-and-response,” complex rhythms, group or choir singing, and the employment of rhythmic instrumentation. Ultimately, Gospel has changed over generations, but the soul, spirit and blackness of the genre still remains. 

Albertins Walker..."Please Be Patient With Me"

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Released in 1979, Walker’s “Please Be Patient with Me”, with Rev. James Cleveland ‎, was one of her popular gospel hits. The song repeatedly states “Please be patient with me. God is not through with me yet”. Albertina is known as the “Queen of Gospel Music” for not only this selection, but the many other Gospel classics she produced. 

Johnathan McReynolds..."Cycles"

The 28 year old singer Johnathan MccReynolds released his hit song “Cycles” in February 2018. This song discusses many things that we don’t often address such as broken habits, things we may have experienced growing up, or bad cycles of behavior. The song says 

“See the devil, he learns from your mistakes

Even if you don’t

That’s how he keeps you in cycles, cycles

Cycles, cycles

But I’m not going in cycles, cycles

Cycles, cycles” 

The song speaks to personal or relatable experiences like that of many Gospel songs before this time, and helps show McReynolds creative talent within the genre of Gospel. 

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The Best of Albertina Walker

New School vs. Old School

Though “Please Be Patient With Me” and “Cycles” come from different gospel musical time frames, they are still quite similar. Both of them include elements of repetition, speaking on personal experiences, and features of group or choir singing. Some differences include the use of a choir in Walker’s song while McReynolds used more of a group harmony. Also while Walker had more piano instrumentation, McReynolds stuck to his guitar as the rhythmic background of his song. Though both songs relate to God, Albertina’s use of the choir gives her song a more powerful upbeat tempo, and in contrast the strings used in Johnathan’s cycles give a more mellow contemporary feel of Gospel music.

The Best of Johnathan McReynolds

"Worship is an inward feeling, and outward action that reflects the worth of God."

John Piper
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