Gospel

Impassioned rhythmic spiritual music rooted in the solo and responsive church singing of rural blacks in the American South, central to the development of rhythm and blues and of soul music. The very first negro spirituals were inspired by African music even if the tunes were not far from those of hymns. Some of them, which were called “shouts” were accompanied with typical dancing including hand clapping and foot tapping. In the early nineteenth century, African Americans were involved in the “Second Awakening”. They met in camp meetings and sang without any hymnbook. Spontaneous songs were composed on the spot. They were called “spiritual songs”. The particular feature of this kind of singing was its surging, melismatic melody, punctuated after each praise by the leader’s intoning of the next line of the hymn. The male voices doubled the female voices an octave below and with the thirds and the fifths occurring when individuals left the melody to sing in a more comfortable range. The quality of the singing was distinctive for its hard, full-throated and/or nasal tones with frequent exploitation of falsetto, growling, and moaning. As traditional negro spirituals continued to be sung, new Gospel songs were created. The lyrics of these new songs dealt with praising the Lord, with personal improvement and with brotherly community life. Many of them were inspired by social problems: segregation, lack of love, drugs, etc. The new Gospel songs created after 1985 are of two types. The first type concerns songs, which are for either worship services or special events in churches. The second type includes songs, which are for concerts.

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