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Gospel Music

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Gospel music is a genre that has long been in existence before this generation's time. The name "Gospel" actually comes from religious roots in Christianity and is most commonly referred to as the "good news" of Jesus Christ. Dating back to the 18th Century, Gospel began its roots amongst black slaves and throughout the years has grown to one of the largest genres of today's musical market.

I was first introduced to gospel music at a very young age. Being raised in the local church, going to hear the call and response melodies of our church choir was a commonality to me throughout the year. The sounds of gospel seemed to be very unique and identifiable. Gospel was so intoxicating to my musical ear, that I could only sober my thirst by learning how to play it myself. I began piano lessons at the age of seven, and instantly started to learn as many Gospel songs as possible. It wasn't until I got older, however, that I started to notice a similarity between Gospel and another genre called Rhythm & Blues, or R&B. As I continued to grow and learn more about the two genres, I became intrigued by their similarities.

It wasn't long before my infatuation with Gospel music began to shift into and before I knew it, I was spending half of my practice time learning R&B songs along with Gospel songs. The similarities were so close musically, that often I would inter mingle the two sounds into each other's songs. I eventually created a universal love and passion for both genres and pursued a career in both sides of music. On Saturday nights, I would play in local night clubs and concert venues and then return to play in my local church on Sundays. This seemingly balanced schedule of mine was quickly brought to a stop one day when the Pastor of the church I was playing at discovered that I played R&B music alongside with Gospel. The pastor asked to me stop playing the "devil's music" and stick strictly to playing Gospel. Up until this time, there was no separation in the two to me, but after hearing the pastor refer to my Saturday activities as "devil music", I instantly began to search for the differences between Gospel and Rhythm & Blues. What were the differences between Gospel and Rhythm & Blues? Who labeled R&B as "devil music"? Why did the two genres sound so similar but treated so differently? After years of experience and much research, I've come to the conclusion that Gospel music and Rhythm & Blues will never be mix.


Traditionally gospel music dates back to the meeting of the 19th and 20th centuries and has ties to both European American and African American communities (Britannica 2010). "White Gospel" or gospel music inspired by European Americans, derived from the protestant church and transcended through the ages through mediums such as Sunday school hymnal books. Most of the traditional white gospel style was executed in four part harmonies, reminiscent of barbershop singing (Britannica 2010). Black gospel music had similar traits as the white gospel music but instead combined the poly-rhythmic nature of West African drum patterns. The combination of styles like ragtime or blues, in conjunction with syncopated drum rhythms, were the main characteristics of traditional black gospel music. The vocal element for traditional black gospel incorporated harmonies as well but also included the "call and response" method to its songs. This method of singing was often used in negro spirituals or slave songs. The fusion of all of these characteristics


I recently learned that R&B sensation Chante Moore is currently working on a gospel album. I decided to sit down with her for a one-on-one interview to hear her ideas about trying to mix the two genres. To give a brief description of Mrs. Moore's credentials, she has recorded seven (7) albums, had multiple Grammy nominated singles, has recorded songs with Prince, George Duke, and even Boyz II Men. After spending over 10 years in the R&B genre, I wanted to find out her mindset and plan to switch to the Gospel genre.

When we sat down in her multi-million dollar home, my first question seemed to set the tone for the whole interview. We sat down in a room holding multiple gold records on the wall. My first question was, "Are you ready to leave this world and step into Gospel?" She looked at me with a seemingly confused grin. "I'm not going to give up any of this stuff. Just because I'm doing Gospel doesn't mean that I'm going to be broke. It doesn't mean that I'm going to stop doing R&B either." She instantly had my attention at this point. Not only was she planning to do Gospel music, but she was still going to attempt to do R&B. "You mean to tell me your going to attempt to do Gospel AND R&B? You know church people are not going to have that." I obviously had a sort of bias to the situation. Her response to me helped to give me a better understanding of her stance.

"I don't do what I do for church people. If they want to judge me, then let them judge me. I do what I do for the Lord. I do it because I love Him and I want to sing love songs unto Him. It's no different than what I do with R&B." (Moore 2010)

It was all coming together. She had no regard for the people she was singing in front of. This is obviously vastly different from the world of R&B. The entire music business is built upon the public's acceptance of the artist and their music. If they don't accept it, then they won't buy albums. If they don't buy albums, then the artist can eventually cease to exist in the music world. I had to find out her plan to escape the one foundational concept of music business. "So based on that response, I'll echo my first question. Are you ready give up all this stuff?" I asked. This time she laughed pretty hard at the question. "If your trying to insinuate that I'm going to go broke by doing Gospel, then you're a little confused my friend. I'll go broke in R&B just the same. People just aren't buying records anymore. All I can do is make the music that I feel. I have to do music that has feeling. Are people in the church going to judge me? Probably so. But I have to find a way to translate the feelings I have for God and make the audience feel it when I sing. People can judge all they want but the one thing you can't deny is the anointing of God!" In the contemporary church, Christian singers often seem to sing a song with much emotion and soul. They say that there is a spiritual feeling



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