Where did gospel music originate from?

Gospel is a genre of Evangelical solo song, created not in the process of spontaneous collective improvisations on the theme of traditional religious hymn,  but most of all by professional authors, composers and poets (in particular, one of the famous authors of the texts of the gospel song was a black poet Langston Hughes).

Gospel concert

The gospel song is dominated by personal, individual start, and has many similarities with the ballad and blues, as well as with the European genres of arioso singing and vocalize. The gospel is usually accompanied by piano or small instrumental ensemble (sometimes with the participation of chorus and orchestra). Also, it is important that the gospel is not part of a religious ceremony and has more artistic than practical value. There are several types of the gospel like Jubilee, song-sermon, and the ring-shout.

Music of the African tribes four centuries ago differed from European and white American music in its fundamental aspect: in African tradition, secular music did not exist. The Europeans, in addition to religion, sang about love, war, about the historical events surrounding villages, about distant lands. Even if many of these songs in one way or another mentioned God, yet we are talking about traditional music (in our modern language). All African music was sacred in nature, and the concept of secular music was unknown. Music had to serve four most important aspects of life: religion, the fertility of land and women, hunting and war.

Women singing

In America, to keep the slaves in subjection (perhaps because of fear), the slave owners did not allow black people to use their traditional musical instruments, as well as did not enable them to sing their folk music. Gradually, many texts and melodies were forgotten and disappeared in the spaces of North America. As a result of this ban, regarding ancestral roots, a new kind of Afro-American music was born. New songs were written with traditional African harmony and rhythm, mixed, however, with the traditional European harmony and using musical instruments.

READ ALSO: Nigerian gospel musicians - 7 top

You must understand that during 2.5 centuries, the situation could not remain unchanged. Worldwide progress has evolved, the freedom gradually won one foothold after another. The United States itself (only 13 Northern States) became independent from the British crown in 1789 and began to spread Republican ideals of France on the American continent. The interpenetration existed, and the white plantation owners-feudal changed over time. Not all of them did not consider blacks people, many of them allowed religion and worships in their diaspora. Masses there could only be Christian.

gospel history

The hymns of gospel music created by black people contained Christian themes with the bright influence of the African vocalizations and rhythms. The Church became a sanctuary for the expression of feelings of black slaves. It was the only place where a group of slaves could congregate without fear of oversight by white slave owners. Of course, those slave owners whose regime for slaves was less cruel allowed to spread the information among blacks and contributed to the growth of their commitment to Christianity. But, since not all slave owners favored religious instruction and prayers of slaves, the meetings were often held in secret. However, when and how exactly the gospel originated is unknown, because the original sources are not preserved.

gospel concert

Gospel music records can be traced in the last thirty years of the 19th century when people began to produce collections of hymns for their use in "black" churches. These hymns included spiritual songs of various types, with lyrics and melody. The first hymnbook was published by the head of the Methodist Church, Marshall W. Taylor. Between 1880 and the first years of the twentieth century the foundation for further development of gospel music was established, thanks to the work of composers of African Americans, the most famous of which is Charles Albert Tindley (1859-1933). He is the author of the well-known hymns are still performed in churches, such as «I'll Overcome Someday», «Stand by Me», «We'll Understand It Better By and By», «The Storm is Passing Over», «What are they Doing in Heaven?».

Formally musical instruments for the gospel are not needed as it was originally performed a cappella. Later accompaniment for gospel hymns became the Church organ. Now the gospel is fulfilled and with the participation of entire ensembles or orchestras.

a cross and music

Church gospel music is often improvised. Gospel music was able to reach the professional level because of the appearance of compositions that have become standards. Here the key role played by Thomas Andrew Dorsey (Thomas A. Dorsey), referred to only as "the father of gospel music." His talents were such songs as "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" and "There Will Be Peace in the Valley."

Further formation of the gospel is characterized by "cooperation" with "black" genres, such as blues, jazz, R&B, and soul. In fact, almost any style of music, which is sung about God can be called gospel. The gospel can be found in the works of the Queen of soul and jazz Aretha Franklin, legends of country music Johnny Cash, the king of rock and roll Elvis Presley, keyboardist Billy Preston (Billy Preston), renowned for his collaboration with The Beatles, a trendsetter in the rock-n-roll Little Richard and, of course, "the blind Genius" Ray Charles.

choir in church

Gospel music got beyond the church, evolved over time and has an extensive success in the world. There are even gospel music festivals. Gospel music got its current meaning which somewhat different compared to the old gospel. Because African-American Christian Church has traditionally been the biggest influence on the lives of African Americans, modern music in the style of the gospel has always been the voice of expression, especially among young people. Many older people consider the music very sacred. The younger generation, in turn, tends to feel misunderstood and unaccepted. Life influences art, and the current state of the modern echo of music in the style of the gospel it is within the African-American community and African-American Christian Church.

Your comment
Add image

By posting your comment, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.