The word 'gospel' means good news and the good news in question refers to the first four books of the New Testament in the Christian Bible. From this gospel, hymns were created and sung in church worship services. Debate often ensues as to where gospel music began since there are several types of gospel music, including Southern gospel and what is known as Black gospel music.
The lines between the different gospel styles are sometimes confused as enslaved Africans were introduced to the Christian religion and took the songs they heard in worship services and began to sing them with their own cultural flavorings. Their style of gospel included repetitious verse and choruses, as well as a call and response style of singing that most identify with gospel music today. Since most enslaved Africans were prohibited from unsupervised congregating, these songs were often taught to others and sang out loud while the enslaved Africans worked in the fields and around the plantations where they lived. Thus, this style of music was sometimes referred to as work music. Eventually, enslaved Africans began to create their own songs and the music style known as Black gospel music was born from these early formats.
While the styles of gospel music may vary, the content remains the same in that it is always intended to inspire, comfort, and express worship for God.
Today, as throughout history, the distinctive rhythms and unique styling of gospel music can often be heard in other musical genres such as the blues, rhythm and blues, country, bluegrass, and jazz. Many world-renowned singers, including Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight, actually began as gospel singers before embarking on careers in other musical formats. Other gospel music greats, such as Mahalia Jackson, enjoyed international recognition as gospel singers, while artists such as Al Green have enjoyed success as both gospel and secular artists.
The styles of gospel music vary today more than at any other time in history. With the advent of rock and roll and hip-hop, many Christian artists are singing gospel music, but with an entirely different tune as artists have adopted different styles. This has repackaged gospel music into different categories such as Christian rock, Christian contemporary, Christian jazz, and Christian hip-hop. Yet, the more traditional styles of Southern gospel and Black gospel music still remain popular.
The following gospel music websites offer a variety of useful resources to anyone interested in learning more about gospel music:
American Gospel Music Directory - A wide selection of links to information on gospel groups, events, concerts, and organizations.
ChristianMusic.org - Up to date information on the gospel music industry, including concert schedules, news, and reviews.
Gospel Engine - Offers news, information, reviews, and resources on several different gospel music genres.
Gospel Index - Featuring videos, mp3 downloads, music reviews, and news on the gospel music industry.
Gospel Guide - Updated information on gospel songs and gospel artists. This site also offers a web-based gospel music radio broadcast.
Will Play for Food - Information on popular gospel music tours of new and independent gospel artists offered in a festival format.
Black Gospel Music:
BlackGospel.com - News and information website on the latest in Black gospel music.
GospelWire.com - Music news on Black gospel artists and groups.
Black Gospel Search - A search directory for news, information, and resources related to the Black gospel music industry.
NegroSpirituals.com - Historical information and links regarding the Black gospel music genre.
Gospel Musician Resources:
Gospel Lyrics - A wide collection of lyrics to popular gospel songs.
FreeGospelResource.com - Content and information targeted toward the gospel musician. Includes music charts, instrument charts, and a newsletter for gospel singers and musicians.
WorshipMusic.com - Sheet music, downloads, musical equipment, and much more for the gospel musician.
Southern Gospel Music:
SoGospel.com - A site dedicated to the Southern gospel music genre. Features information on Bluegrass gospel music, events, concerts, awards, and a variety of other Southern gospel music links.
SingingNews.com - A directory of Southern gospel music resources
Southern Gospel Music Association - Home of the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Also offers resources for members of the organization and fans of Southern gospel music.
Southern Gospel Music Links - A directory of Southern gospel music performers, songwriters, promoters, events, and more.
Canadian Gospel Music Links:
HisFest.com - Canadian gospel music concert information.
TorontoGospel.ca - Listen to gospel music from Canada over the Internet.
Source of Joy - Information about the Swedish gospel choir of the same name.