The Gospel Truth


The gospel genre officially originated in the 1930s. Gospel music was, and continues to be, a way for Black people to give praise and worship. This has been a large component of Black life since slavery, when enslaved Africans would sing Negro Spirituals to praise and worship. Much of the Gospel tradition is influenced by early spirituals.

  • Storefront church (used to be a liquor store, now a church)
  • Folk spiritual (folk music and negro spiritual)
  • Great migration
  • Shout (not ring shout)
  • Transitional gospel music (rural Gospel)
  • Speaking in tongues
  • Call-response
  • Thomas A. Dorsey (1899-1993)
  • Arizona Dranes (1891-1963)
  • Mahalia Jackson (1911-1972)
  • Kirk Franklin (1970 – Present)
  • Hezekiah Walker (1962 – Present)
*Click images below to hear the work of these artists*


In Gospel music, there are four main styles:

1) Traditional (typically sang by a large choir)

2) Contemporary (solos and testimonials)

3) Quartet (a small group singing in harmony; reminiscent of the Jubilee Quartet tradition)

4) Praise & Worship (a mix of styles commonly used today)

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Shelby Richardson

Shelby Richardson

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