Gospel | Gullah Music - Episode 6


After slavery ended, some African American churches shifted from traditional spirituals to a new kind of religious music called gospel. This style of music brought together the elements of the “shout” songs from the praise houses and some characteristics of the blues. The lyrics had Christian themes and the rhythm was upbeat. Unlike the blues, gospel had a hopeful message.

Thomas A. Dorsey had a major influence on the development of gospel music. He began his career as a pianist for blues singers like Gertrude “Ma” Rainey but he left the blues scene for the church and composed over 500 gospel songs. He is considered "The Father of Gospel" and the singer Mahalia Jackson is known as "The Queen of Gospel.” Some pop singers--like Whitney Houston--got their start singing gospel in the church.