I think the amazing thing about Gospel music is that it is uniquely communicated depending upon the generation. ~Bishop T.D. Jakes
Gospel music is categorized by its strong and melodically full vocals that represent or reference Christian ideologies and inspirational lyrics. Lyrics that speak volumes to our hearts, souls, and spirit, often moving us to tears, dances, and praise breaks. Most gospel music incorporates full harmonies through mass choirs. Songs within the gospel genre are songs of testimony, worship, reverence, and breakthrough. Gospel music has roots in the African folk music tradition, which traces back to the 17th century—evolving into what are known as spirituals, eventually progressing into what we hear today: from the likes of Kirk Franklin, Deitrick Haddon, Yolanda Adams, Donnie McClurkin, Mary Mary, and Kierra “Kiki” Sheard, with their respective influences BEing the timeless Mahalia Jackson, Shirley Caesar, Albertina Walker, and James Cleveland.
Conversely, accompanied by its spiritual and inspirational roots, gospel has transformed and pays homage to several musical genres, thus expanding the audience. For example, there’s gospel jazz from Jeff Majors, gospel with rock undertones, and gospel with hip-hop/rap flavor. With this in mind, it appears, and one can argue that gospel music also has its mainstream factors, appealing to the masses—thus essentially making gospel an entertainment product for the global musical marketplace.
Further examples of the mainstream influence of gospel are also shown in our TV viewings. For instance, BET has ushered in the reality TV Shows “Sunday’s BEst,” and most recently, “The Sheards.” Also, cable network channel We TV has welcomed us into the personal and daily lives of sisters and musicians Mary Mary, with the show by the same namesake. With all this infusion of gospel culture hitting the mainstream via television and radio, the question then BEcomes, “Is this a good or bad thing?” The answer lies in the listener, watcher, and consumer.
As a young person who grew up with the Baptist Christian tradition, I would have to say that the idea of gospel BEcoming what we connote as “mainstream” is a double edged sword. I think that BEing able to reach the masses with inspiration through a catchy and familiar tune is wonderful. However, the downside of making music for mass production often leads to “processed BEats” and “formulaic tunes,” often lacking the organic and pure nature of what once was. Holistically speaking, I think that what is truly essential, just as in any genre of music, is to truly look into the lyrics of any song that we enjoy…that’s where the inspiration lies. That’s what I think is the BEauty of music; though the instrumentals may change over time, it’s the lyrics that connect each generation.
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