University of Southern California Digital Library > Gospel Music History Archive > Lecture on the history of gospel music of Daniel Walker, USC, 2007

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Lecture on the history of gospel music of Daniel Walker, USC, 2007
Walker, Daniel, speaker
Moon, Haeyong
Moon, Haeyong, videographer
Date Created and/or Issued
Publication Information
University of Southern California. Libraries
Contributing Institution
University of Southern California Digital Library
Gospel Music History Archive
Rights Information
Doheny Memorial Library, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0189.
Send requests to address or e-mail given. Phone (213) 821-2366; fax (213) 740-2343.
USC Libraries Special Collections
Daniel Walker gives an extensive lecture on the history of gospel music. Part one of his lecture begins with Africa and the early stages of slavery
Mr. Walker explains the influences of the non-Christian African religion brought over to America, the spiritual practices, particularly music and dance, and the effect it had on African American christianity. He talks about percussive music, polyrhythms, improvisations, and ancestralism as key components to their beliefs and expressions thereof. The initial idea of slavery was "indentured servitude," where people would be kept for a number of years of servitude, and after that period be freed by the master. It is also important to note that only non Christians could be made slaves
for this reason Africans, specifically from the west side of the continent, were brought over, and were deliberately excluded from the master's religion. Around 1730, the "Great Awakening" changed the rules. Slaves were Christianized, by Baptists and Methodists. These two denominations had the most success with the Africans, because Baptists emphasized baptism, which related to the Koluna river which was a spiritual passageway for thier native religion. Not long after the first Free African Baptist church was founded, in Savannah, Georgia. The Methodists worshipped through music and song, which had been so vital to the spiritual experience of the Africans. Though Methodists did not ordain blacks, they would "exhort" them, and used their messages to move the whites to religion.
The African Methodist Episcopal church, was the first independent African American christian denomination in America, founded by Absalom Jones and some others. The story of God using Moses to free the Israelites under the opression of the Egyptians in Exodus influenced the Africans' ideology and the spirituals. Mr. Walker emphasized that religion througout time is constantly being conformed to the economic society. This is the story that they latched onto and identified with. The second portion of his lecture, Mr. Walker continues the history into the birth of gospel music. The Civil War was believed to be the deliverance of the slaves similar to the story in Exodus. African Americans started universities, educating former slaves, and had large choirs that inspired the churches around. Schools were created for and by three different reasons: 1) rich philanthropists wanted to help out the negro situation, 2) state and public schools wanted to uphold segregation, and 3) religious churches and organizations wanted to create ways to earn an education.
Quartet singing (different from Modern quartet singing) was immenseley popular, like the tight four-part harmonies found in barbershop singing. The Fisk Jubilee singers were a small group that gave spirituals fame. The Pentecostal denomination, which uses the technique of speaking in tongues, started to flourish in the late 1800s with the Azusa Street revival with William Seymour (?) and Charles Harrison Mason. Secular music had a great influence over the music for church and religious music. Many people argued against it, and others for, emphasizing the lyrics to distinguish, not only the music. They had the blues, and then they had the Holy blues. Arizona Drains(?) was a christian musician, but her style sounded exactly like ragtime
another christian artist, Rosetta Thorpe's style sounded like swing. Thomas Dorsey is considered the father of gospel. Then came "Modern Quartet singing" where like quartet singing from the past, they had four voice harmonies, but here they added another singer, a part to counter the quartet. Groups like the Temptations, Clara Wade (?) and the Gospel Singers, and The Caravans revolutionized sacred, religious music. Other important figures include Dorothy Love Cotes(?) and Rev. C.L. Franklin and his daughter, Aretha. Rev. Dr. James Cleveland was one of the most influential artists on the modern gospel sound. The "golden age" of gospel is considered to be roughly between 1945 and 1968.
The third and final part of his lecture focuses on and delves deep into the civil rights movement. He explains how this movement cannot and shoud not be segregated from its religious influences. Rosa Parks, of the Women's Political Caucus in Montgomery, Alabama takes the inital stand (or sit) against segregation and move toward civil rights. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. bacame the face in the forefront of the movement in Montgomery, after his speech about the condition of mankind in relation to each other, and to God. Rev. Dr. King emphasized the importance of caring for the poor and educating those uneducated, and being a good citizen of the world. Contemporary gospel came about in the late 1960s around 1967, with the album "Let Us Go Into the House of the Lord" and the famous song "Oh Happy Day" what revolutionized gospel. The Clark Sisters and Andre Crouch were two more highly influential artists at this time, bringing sacred lyrics to secular sounds
Mr. Walker calls it a "flirtation" with the world. Then in the mid 1990s, Kirk Franklin combined characteristics of gospel, hip-hop, and rap in a song "Stomp."
moving image
1 video file (157 min.) : digital, mp4
streaming video
gmha-m57 [Legacy record ID]
Gospel music
Los Angeles
educational facilities: University of Southern California
gmha-m1 [Source (legacy collection record ID)]
Gospel Music History Archive

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