The History of Gospel Music Essay

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Music is an important aspect of every society. Music can tell stories, release emotions, build bridges and break down barriers, but above all music is entertaining. There are various forms of music but not many have as rich a history as gospel music. The importance of gospel music has been relevant in American music for more than a century and its importance to society is still relevant to this day (See Appendix A). Gospel music helped slaves escape to freedom and paved the way for other styles of music. It promotes a spirit of hope and provided an outlet to worship God. So how exactly has Gospel music impacted today’s society? Music has been relevant in Christianity since its beginnings. Some of the first…show more content…
Spirituals were not only “sung to keep spirits up” (Thompson 9), but were used as coded messages to give directions for where to go or how to proceed to freedom in the North. The slave owners believed that the slaves were happy because they sang church songs and they praised God but little did they know, that the slaves were secretly communicating. For instance, during the Underground Railroad, songs like “Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd,’ ‘Wade in the Water,’ and ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,’ all directly refer to secret code about using the Underground Railroad.” As many as 100,000 slaves escaped by means of this method (Thompson 9).
When President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862, over twenty million Americans, both black and white moved out of the southern United States. This move as stated by Whitaker, “transformed religion, American popular culture, racial hierarchies, American conservative and the nature of American regions.” During this revolutionary movement, “Baptist and Pentecostal churches” and music, such as jazz, blues and gospel, spread. Spirituals were not known by anywhere else in the country other than in the south until that time (570).
Spirituals were used and recorded by producers and different artists. A group of college students called, “the Jubilee Singers,” from Fisk University sang Spirituals to parts of the United States and

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