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African American Gospel Music

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Overview History Gospel Exhibit Exhibits Schedule

A Brief Overview
Of African American Gospel Music

African American gospel music came from the African heritage and tradition of the slaves who where field hollers and later spirituals helped them to service the brutal treatment of slaver. These utterances were to a God to calm the inner soul and let the endure life as best they could from oppression.

Dr. Charles Tindley and Dr. Charles Price Jones in the first half of the 20th Century published books of hymns and spirituals songs that helped to pave the way for Professor Thomas Dorsey, the "Father of gospel music," who coined the phrase "Gospel music" and thereby introduced it to a ready audience. He along with the early pioneers, Sallie Martin, Roberta Martin, Rev. W. H. Brewster, Ms. Lucie Campbell, Kenneth Morris and others wrote and recorded songs for a host of pioneer gospel singers, ie., Mahalia Jackson, Arizona Dranes, Ernestine Washington, Mother Willie Mae Ford Smith, Robert Anderson, Clara Ward and the Ward Singers and others.

The golden era from the 1940s to the early 1960s produced a number of singers, groups, and choirs who traveled the width and length of this nation spreading the word of God in Song through gospel music. Some of these gospel personalities who trekked across s the United States were the Dixie Hummingbirds, the Wings Over Jordan, Professor Alex Bradford, the Rasberry Singers, O'Neal Twins, Brother Joe May, the Angelic Gospel Singers, the Consolers, and others.

After the 1960s, the present day, choirs, groups, and singers are still keeping the gospel music flame burning in the hearts of an ardent audience. Dr. Mattie Moss Clark and the Southwest Michigan State Choir of the Church of God in Christ, the Thompson Community Singers with the Rev. Milton Brunson and Jessie Dixon, Marion the Winans, the Clark Sisters, Evangelist Shirley Caesar, Sara Jordan Powell are a few for the gospel music leaders.
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A Brief History Of Gospel Music

1650 - A cappella singing is singing in harmony without musical instruments. It is represented in all types of music. For example, field work songs, and spirituals.

1865 - Freedom songs. Freedom from slavery.

1872 - Fisk Jubilee Singers. Other colleges started jubilee singing groups. They performed locally.

1900 - Hymns and Hymn books were written and copyrighted for congregational singing.

1921 - The Gospel Pearls, a song book, was introduced at the National Baptist Convention in Chicago. Solos and Congregational singing.

1923 - Beginning of gospel recordings on Race Records. Records for "Negroes." The blues race records began in 1921.

1940s - The Golden Era of Gospel Music began. Gospel groups were promoted by religious promoters. The audiences gave a free will offering to hear gospel quartets and singers.

1945 - After World War II. Singers and quartets became professional with non-religious managers and promoters. Several groups appeared on a single gospel show. Audiences paid to hear music.

1948 - Singers and quartets became more than four members. For example, the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi.

1951 - Doo-Wop was a pop style of quartet harmonies of croons. Many male singers changed from gospel quartets to doo-wop singing.

1956 - Gospel Iyrics and harmony were present in secular songs. An example, Sam Cooke, "A Change is Going to Come." Several gospel singers became Soul Singers.

1960 - the late 1960s was the end of the Golden Era of Gospel Music. Gospel choirs became dominant. The Edwin Hawkin's Choir sang "Oh Happy Day," it was tops on the billboard charts.

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Good News (Gospel) Exhibit

1940s- 1960s Shows and Exhibits Schedule Through photography, text and music, this exhibit describes the importance of gospel music in African American communities in the United States. Tracing the evolution of gospel music. Deacon Major J. Hollis a promoter of gospel music in Florida captivated Sherry DuPree, a reference librarian at Santa Fe Community College. Mr. Hollis was the recipient of the 1994 Florida Folk Heritage Award, given by the State of Florida. He promoted gospel group that came to Florida annually. The collections has photos and billboards representing the North, East, South, and West, the first letter of each direction is a part of the spelling of the word NEWS. DuPree interviewed gospel musicians and included materials from these individuals: The Abner Jay Collection, Fitzgerald, Georgia; Robert and Florence McGoings Collection, Baltimore, Maryland and other private collections. Supported by the Alachua County Commissioners, the Friends of the Alachua County Public Libraries and Santa Fe Community College. DuPree's research resulted in this exhibit and a book, African-American Good News Gospel Music, published in 1993 by the Middle Atlantic Regional Press, Washington, D.C.

Number of Works: 20 framed panels - photographs and text
A gospel quilt: 80'' x 60'' wall space

LP record jackets: 10. - This exhibit is self-contained, yet it does not includes all necessary exhibit furniture.

Space Requirements: 80 linear feet of wall space minimum, including the quilt. Space does not need to be continuous

Shipping: Designated Carrier

Exhibition Period: 4 weeks minimum

Security: required

Loan Fee: plus shipping and insurance

Publications and supplemental materials:Brochures, educational videotape,"The Golden Era of Gospel Music," bookmarks and the book, African-American Good News (Gospel) Music P.O. Box 6021, Washington, D.C. 20005, ISBN: 1977971-08-1)

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