Gospel- Then & Now


Then & Now


Gospel music is religious music of African Americans that started in the early 1900s. Gospel music has evolved over time in urban cities following the Great Migration of Blacks from the south following the times after both World Wars . Coming from the early 20th century, gospel is rooted in other genres such as negro spirituals and old Christian hymns. 


Father Stretch My Hand- Pastor T.L. Barrett (1976)

Thomas Lee Barrett Jr., or T.L Barrett, is an American Pentecostal preacher and gospel artist from Chicago, Illinois.  Barrett lead a youth choir in the late 1960s and 1970s in Chicago. As his time as an artist, Barrett put out over 5 albums and a number of singles and ep’s. 

‘Father Stretch My Hand’ was a song created in 1976. Many have labeled Barrett’s style of gospel as ‘deep funk’ with the youth choir giving ‘a string of stirring. almost eerie performances.’ Being that this song was created in the late 70s, there are some secular elements of the song that come with it. Although the lyrics are all spiritual, the song is different from traditional gospel music. Aside from the choir and the lyrics, the difference lies in the instruments used and style used. In the beginning you can hear a synthesizer, which became popular with funk music, which took off in the last 60s.  

People now recognize this song because it was sampled in Kanye West’s 2016 ‘Father I stretch My Hands Pt.1’ on ‘The Life of Pablo’. In ‘The Life of Pablo’, Kanye describes this album as a “gospel album with a lot of cussing”. 


Love Theory -Kirk Franklin (2019)

Kirk Franklin born January 26, 1970, is a decorated American gospel musician from Fort Worth, Texas. Franklin has been in a range of groups, for example, The Family, and God’s Property. Over his time in the industry, Franklin has compiled over 13  Grammy wins, and 23 nominations. 

‘Love Theory’ was a song create in 2019. As we know, gospel music almost reflects the popular music in culture at that specific time. This style is typically labeled ‘urban contemporary gospel’ which has been growing in popularity since the late 1980s. Over the years, songs with an urban contemporary style have received a lot of criticism because other believe that they are too secular. A subgenre that stems off of urban contemporary is ‘christian hip hop’ which has also been growing in popularity. 


A style in which there is a succession in two distinct phrases, where the second phrase follows the first in a response or direct commentary. 

A ‘shout’ is an elated expression fo worship through demonstrated behavior, often reflecting an altered state of being. 

More Gospel


Burnim, Mellonee V., and Portia K. Maultsby. African American Music: an Introduction. Routledge, 2015.

“Urban Contemporary Gospel.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 23 Jan. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urban_contemporary_gospel.

“Opinion | The Quietus Essay | Without A Sail: The Complicated Legacy Of Pastor T. L. Barrett.” The Quietus, thequietus.com/articles/20857-pastor-t-l-barrett-like-a-ship-without-a-sail-review.

“Kirk Franklin.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 18 Apr. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kirk_Franklin.

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