100 Years of Praise and Worship
Gospel music has had a weighty impact on the black community since its creation. With its beginnings in the Gospel period of the Jubilee Quartet genre (which developed from negro spirituals), Gospel music took the black community by storm and has been active ever since. Gospel music has been morphing since its creation, catering to different tastes with different styles. In its history, as the years go on, Gospel ever evolves to not only continue in a traditional sense but also cater to mainstream styles to attract new listeners.
Ten Decades of Gospel
“He’s the Lily of the Valley” was recorded in 1926 by Arizona Dranes. Dranes was credited as the first person to play piano on a gospel record.
“Take My Hand, Precious Lord” was written in 1932 following the “Father of Gospel”, Thomas Dorsey lost his first wife, Nettie. This soulful song has been covered many times, including by that of the great Mahalia Jackson.
Gospel music was heavily influenced by the sounds of Jubilee Quartet music. So much, in fact, that the genre transitioned into a Gospel Period in the mid 1940s. Even though this particular song was released in 1940, you can see the influence.
Clara Ward and the Ward Singers brought “How I Got Over” to life in 1951. This song was inspired by the hardships brought on by racial tension in America at the time. While traveling to Atlanta, GA, they were ambushed by a group of white men because they were traveling in a luxury vehicle (and black).
“Two Wings” by The Mighty Clouds of Joy was a song released in 1965. This song is very much reflective of the 1960’s revival of the Blues genre. This song is a great example of how gospel music can have a traditional song, or conform to mainstream styles, resulting in a possible attraction of more listeners.
“Ordinary People” by Danniebelle Hall was released in 1977. This record is a nice example of how music in the ’70s began to have a little less focus on syncopation. Most of or all aspects of the music flows together, giving it a different sound than that of its predecessor.
I.O.U. Me by BeBe and Cece Winans was released in 1987. One of my favorite gospel pairs/groups, this Winans’ song is an example of how the rise of R&B affected gospel music. The sound of this pair is the perfect mix of R&B and gospel, given that it is easy to mistake their sound for a love song to each other, but their lyrics allude to their love for the Lord.
Kirk Franklin’s “Stomp” was released in 1997. The fast-paced style and the beat that is similar to different mainstream hip-hop songs from the ’90s is yet another example of how gospel morphed throughout the years. This song was famously controversial amongst some Christians in the 90s.
“Never Would’ve Made It” by Marvin Sapp was released in 2007. In my opinion, there were many hits released during the decade, making it hard to choose just one song. This emotional and soulful record represents just some of the feel that was associated with gospel music at the time.
Tye Tribbett’s “Same God” was released in 2013. This record was of course not the first song of this style, but it definitely highlights a “hype” gospel that has been developing since at least the ’90s. This sound often makes listeners want to get out of their seat with its upbeat flow and high focus on the drums.
I Got it by Pastor Mike, Jr. was released in 2020. This song, with its sound, developed heavily by the piano and drums (as well as the use of heavy bass), is most likely considered Trap Gospel. The use of repetition also alludes to Trap Gospel. This type of gospel music appeals to especially younger demographic, pulling them in by making music that sounds so much similar to what they are used to listening to. Thi song is also one of those songs that may make you get out of your seat, a trend seeming to start in the 90’s.