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
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
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
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.
"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
1960 - the late 1960s was the end of the Golden Era of Gospel Music.
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
featuring "THE GOLDEN ERA OF GOSPEL MUSIC"
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,
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
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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