The Origin of Gospel Music | Author: Gerd C. Pacher
Gospel music is music that has been created to express religious belief and is characterized by the use of dominant vocals. The precise origin of gospel music lyrics is relatively unknown because the roots of gospel music are not documented well. Stories behind gospel songs weren't written down any many of the early records have been lost. Despite this, many historians believe that gospel music evolved from slaves sometime in the 18th century.
When slaves arrived from Africa they tried to maintain their culture, but were forbidden by slave owners to play African instruments. The slaves infused music and dance into their everyday tasks such as working the fields. The slaves sang songs about working hard and about God. It was at this time that the field holler was created and it encouraged others to answer and sing along.
When slavery was abolished, African-Americans slowly began to migrate north to big cities. The former slaves clung to their music and dance, but brought it indoors to the churches that they started to attend. The church soloist often sang and the choir answered in response to the soloist's questions. It was a way to celebrate God and to celebrate life.
Thomas Dorsey, an African-American musician, has been given credit for pushing gospel music to the masses in the 1930s. He was the son of a preacher and wrote many religious songs. The music that he created was exuberant and featured shouts of praise. Dorsey promoted gospel choirs and singers in venues other than churches and changed admission fees for the performance
Gospel music was becoming so successful that it eventually became part of the regular radio programming rotation. Gospel was not just for churches any longer. Gospel music has been credited with influencing blues and jazz music, and it is still evolving today.
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