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This Far by Faith

Journeys

Timeline

People

About the Series
Discussions

1526-1775: from AFRICA to AMERICA1776-1865: from BONDAGE to HOLY WAR1866-1945: from EMANCIPATION to JIM CROW1946-1966: from CIVIL RIGHTS to BLACK POWER1967-TODAY: from CRISIS, A SEARCH FOR MEANINGTODAY: The Journey Continues
1526-1775: from AFRICA to AMERICA1776-1865: from BONDAGE to HOLY WA
1866-1945: from EMANCIPATION to JIM CROW
Next Journey
Make a Joyful Noise: The Spread of Gospel Music 1946-1966: from CIVIL RIGHTS to BLACK POWER



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Timeline: 1866-1945 View Detailed Timeline
1946-1966: from CIVIL RIGHTS to BLACK POWER1967-TODAY: from CRISIS, A SEARCH FOR MEANINGTODAY: The Journey Continues
1946-1966: from CIVIL RIGHTS to BLACK POWER1967-TODAY: from CRISIS, A SEARCH FOR MEANINGTODAY: The Journey Continues



1866-1945: from EMANCIPATION to JIM CROW
Make a Joyful Noise: The Spread of Gospel Music



"The blues are the songs of despair, but gospel songs are the songs of hope." --Mahalia Jackson


In the 1920s, individual black artists began to blend the various strands of African-American music into a new religious art. They fought against traditionalist churches as they did so, but ultimately, the sheer power of the uniquely urban, yet fundamentally rural, music took root among black congregations. It was called Gospel music, and it quickly swept black Baptist and Methodist churches. The sheer number of migrants in the North determined that outcome, as did the talent and faith of musicians like Thomas Dorsey, Mahalia Jackson, and the Ebenezer Gospel Choir.




Thomas Dorsey.


The word "gospel" derives from the Greek for "good news," meaning the good news of the New Testament. Gospel songs proclaim hope in the face of disaster, and in that way are like the spirituals from slavery times. Unlike spirituals, they have few references to Old Testament stories and characters. And while the spirituals are meant to be sung in a chorus, gospel tunes generally have an important role for the soloist.

Gospel particularly drew from the rhythms of blues and jazz music. In this way, it healed the long-standing tension between sacred and secular music in African-American culture. Many blues singers were known to perform on Saturday nights and then get up on Sundays to preach and evangelize. In Gospel, the music of Saturday night was adapted for worship on Sunday mornings.




Mahalia Jackson and Thomas Dorsey


In 1932, Ebenezer's Gospel Choir made its singing debut. The choir consisted of 100 members, mostly recent migrants. It was also in 1932 that Dorsey, a migrant and blues musician, wrote his most famous song, "Take My Hand, Precious Lord," and co-founded the first publishing house for the promotion of black American gospel. In 1942, the Golden Gates recorded "No Segregation in Heaven," a highlight in the era of a cappella music that dominated gospel.

Gospel music and the hope, joy, and faith that it embodies, would become essential to helping African-Americans through a new struggle: World War II.




People of Faith


 Thomas Dorsey
Thomas Dorsey


Did You Know?



Mahalia Jackson made gospel popular.
more


All black church music is not gospel.
more


Contemporary gospel music is more widespread than traditional gospel ever was.
more


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