Contemporary Gospel Music
A Brief History on the Development of Gospel Music
Gospel music is part of the rich history of Christian music. Throughout time, the term “gospel” has become synonymous with raw, soulful, spirit-filled music. From the psalms to the early hymns, gospel music has adapted over the centuries. The term “gospel music” was established in the USA in the eighteenth century. Slave songs and Negro spirituals were sung by those in slavery and became the original form of American folk music. Gospel music then grew through the Civil War, revival camp meetings, and the Depression. Read more on the history of gospel music.
With its rich history, gospel music delights listeners with its harmony, unique style and uplifting spirit. It stirs many different emotions in the audience and is not constrained to the walls of a church. Some of our most beautiful music was forged from times of grief, suffering and depression. The genre of gospel music is no exception. Gospel music captures the creative and spiritual imaginations of people.
After thousands of years, gospel music still captivates our hearts and souls because it stands against the social background of our day and uplifts the spirit. The twentieth century and beyond uses a wide range of technologies and sounds. This has seen the expansion of gospel music across cultural lines and ethnicities. International gospel music and other more unique, foreign styles have started to become popular. Gospel music is now expressed in as many ways as there are music genres, but all carry the “good news” message that uplifts the soul.
Making a joyful noise unto the Lord is what music is about. Gospel music especially allows us to come together and honor the past, look forward to the future, and through song, renew our faith.
Free Downloadable Gospel Music
Are you looking for free gospel music to download? We offer a selection of our songs as free downloadable gospel music tracks. They are quality mp3 files that are easy to download to your computer (downloading help).You can then burn them to cd or put the songs on your iPod or mp3 player.
Learn to Hear and Play Gospel Music
Learn how to play by ear literally any gospel song on the piano. Playing gospel music is made easy with this complete course including audio cd, and book which teaches chords, keys, music theory, sounds and scales. 60 FREE lessons online! Thousands of great musicians have already taken advantage of this excellent program... why not you?
Learn the secrets to playing absolutely any song on the piano in virtually minutes!
Want More Gospel Songs?
Visit our online store to listen and buy:
- live praise & worship cds
- devotional & healing gospel songs
- inspirational & spontaneous albums
- smooth instrumental gospel music
Download Our Free Gospel Music Resources
Download all the written music from our first Secret Place album Seek My Face for free (full version)! We have made all the piano sheet music, guitar chords, tabs and lyrics for all the songs off this popular album available to you FREE OF CHARGE. Some of these songs make excellent choruses for Sunday morning worship, and for this purpose permission is given to make copies of this music for distribution to your local church musicians.
Click on the relevant links below to go to the music resource of your choice:
The Story Behind Gospel Songs
History of Gospel Music
Gospel music is music that is written to express either personal, spiritual or a communal belief regarding Christian life, as well as (in terms of the varying music styles) to give a Christian alternative to mainstream secular music. Like other forms of Christian music, the creation, performance, significance, and even the definition of gospel music varies according to culture and social context. Gospel music is composed and performed for many purposes, including aesthetic pleasure, religious or ceremonial purposes, and as an entertainment product for the marketplace. However, a common theme of most gospel music is praise, worship or thanks to God.
Where Did Gospel Music Come From?
One can pursue the roots of gospel music through the academic discipline of ethno-musicology (going back to Europe and Africa), through a study of the 2,000-year history of church music, and through a study of rural folk music traditions, but for practical purposes, gospel music as we know it can be traced to the 18th century.
In African-American music, gospel quartets developed an a cappella style following the earlier success of the Fisk Jubilee Singers. The 1930s saw the Fairfield Four, the the Dixie Hummingbirds, the Five Blind Boys, the Swan Silvertones, the Charioteers, and the Golden Gate Quartet. Racism divided the nation, and these groups were best known in the African-American community, but some in the white community began to follow them. In addition to these high profile quartets, there were many black gospel musicians performing in the 1920s and 30s.
The holiness-Pentecostal movement, or sanctified movement, appealed to people who were not attuned to sophisticated church music, and holiness worship has used any type of instrumentation that congregation members might bring in, from tambourines to electric guitars. Pentecostal churches readily adopted and contributed to the gospel music publications of the early 20th century. Late 20th century musicians such as Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Mahalia Jackson, Andrae Crouch, and the Blackwood Brothers either were raised in a Pentecostal environment, or have acknowledged the influence of that tradition.
In the 1930s, in Chicago, Thomas A. Dorsey (best known as author of the song, "Precious Lord, Take My Hand"), who had spent the 1920s writing secular music, turned full time to gospel music, established a publishing house, and invented the black gospel style of piano music. He dedicated all of his musical talent to the service of the LORD. It has been said that 1930 was the year when modern gospel music began, because the National Baptist Convention first publicly endorsed the music at its 1930 meeting. Dorsey was responsible for developing the musical careers of many African-American artists, such as Mahalia Jackson.
Following the Second World War, gospel music moved into major auditoriums, and gospel music concerts became quite elaborate. In 1950, black gospel was featured at Carnegie Hall when Joe Bostic produced the Negro Gospel and Religious Music Festival. He repeated it the next year with an expanded list of performing artists, and in 1959 moved to Madison Square Garden. Today, black gospel and white gospel are distinct genres, with distinct audiences. In white gospel, there is a large Gospel Music Association and a Gospel Music Hall of Fame, which includes a few black artists, such as Mahalia Jackson, but which ignores most black artists. In the black community, James Cleveland established the Gospel Music Workshop of America in 1969.
- Wikipedia Article.
How do I find a specific gospel song? All your favorite gospel songs of older time are now just a click away. Use the search to find a vast collection of old gospel songs and words to church hymns. Find the words to your top 100 gospel songs by browsing the large library for hard to find gospel songs. Search by title and artist.