African American gospel music from the time of its inception in the early 20th century, has changed from a traditional sound to a more modern contemporary style and is constantly evolving. The Walls group, which is comprised of 4 siblings Darrell, Rhea, Paco, and Ahjah Walls, are an example of this constant change of the genre.
African American gospel music like many other forms of Black American music stemmed from slavery. Slave/ Folk spirituals from the 1800’s stemmed into transitional gospel in the 1900’s due to the great migration. Throughout the 1900’s gospel music transitioned quickly, by the 70’s and 80’s contemporary gospel had developed. The Walls Group from the time of their inception has been heavily influenced by contemporary gospel and the genres they spurred from it. To the right is an example from one of their earliest videos.
Their first album charted on Billboard, and they were then signed to RCA Records. The Billboard charting got the attention of Kirk Franklin another one of their influences.
By the 90’s urban contemporary gospel flooded the community, and became wildly popular amongst African American youth, The walls group is no exception, with all of its members being born in the 90’s, this sub-genre is their signature sound.
In 2014 they released an official studio album landing them again on the Billboard charts at No. 39 and number 1 on the top Gospel Albums Charts. Their album making number one on the gospel charts is jsut on example of how the sound of Gospel has changed throughout the years.
In the later 2000 ‘s Hip Hop gospel/ Christian Rap developed. A style that stemmed from urban contemporary gospel, this style can include popular mainstream artist incorporating God into their music or Gospel artist using a hip hop beat. The Walls group is known for doing this with their more recent music, while still having their contemporary style.
With The Walls Group being a muti-Grammy nominated group in the Gospel genre and having a majority urban contemporary sound, it displays how the sound of this genre is changing, with each generation. It also shows how each generation has built upon the last, hearing contemporary and a bit of traditional sound still in a few major Gospel artist albums today.