Gospel music is the new age or twentieth-century form of African American religious music. It evolved in urban cities such as Chicago, Detroit, New York, and others following the Great Migration. The term “gospel music” was not widely used until the 1930s. Around this time, Thomas Dorsey was named the “Father of Gospel Music”. He resigned his roots as an accomplished blues and jazz pianist-composer, and devoted himself to the development of gospel music. His strides helped establish a genre that is still broadly celebrated and evolving to this day.
Though many credit the origins of gospel music to the Pentecostal Church, integral pioneers in this genre also came from people in Baptist, Methodist, and other denominations. In general, gospel music focuses on preaching The Gospel of Jesus Christ and is used as a means of worship and praise.
There are different forms of gospel music such as Traditional Gospel, which launched the genre. One of the most notable songs, written by Thomas Dorsey, is “Take My Hand, Precious Lord”. Below are two versions of the song. Contemporary gospel music uses the roots that traditional gospel grew and adds its own flare with the use of different instrumentation, vocal harmonies, amongst other musical additives. The song “Oh Happy Day” by the Edwin Hawkins Singers ushered in this new gospel era in 1969. Gospel music continues to grow and cater to its audience. “Your Spirit” by Tasha Cobbs is a recent and popular gospel song that showcases how the genre has grown over the decades.
Without the blossoming of gospel music, hymns and spirituals would be the main form of Christian musical worship. As amazing as they are, the addition of gospel music allows for more expression and has provided millions of people with another outlet to praise God.