The History and Evolution of Gospel Music

The History and Evolution of Gospel Music

Lederrick Wesley
December 11, 2008
Special Projects
Dr. Karin Sehmann


The History and Evolution of Gospel Music

The culture of African Americans dates back to the beginning of times in Africa. So many things were carried across the world such as culture, art, music, and different cultural practices. The music of African Americans has transcended across different cultures. Gospel music is one of the sacred forms of music for African Americans.   This is one of the hottest music genres currently out, and it is not only meant to relay a message to people but change their hearts in the process and help people endure positive out takes on life.   Gospel music has a long rich tradition with great contributors such as Thomas Dorsey, Mahalia Jackson, Whitney Houston, and Kirk Franklin.   Things such as gospel music workshops and conventions exist today to educate individuals on this peculiar style of music. Recently, I held a gospel music workshop and many things were involved in putting it together. The following paper will discuss my research on the evolution of gospel music and elaborate more on why I decided to do a gospel music workshop.

African American gospel music has been implemented with secular and non-African American elements.   This has caused many individuals to wonder “what is gospel music?”   This musical phenomenon has moved beyond the walls of the “black church” and includes many aspects (Wise 1). Gospel music can be defined from a cultural, spiritual, or musical perspective.   There are underlying theological and spiritual principles Gospel music was a sacred folk music that originated out of slave songs, field hollers, Baptist lining hymns, and Negro spirituals and standard Protest hymns and many composed songs.

      The Center for Black Music Research in Chicago, IL classifies gospel music as African-American Protestant vocal music that celebrates Christian doctrine in emotive, often dramatic ways. Vocal soloists are the best-known...

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