African American Religious Music
African American religious music is the foundation of all contemporary forms of so called "black music." African American religious music has been a fundamental part of the black experience in this country. This common staple of the African American experience can be traced back to the cruel system of slavery. It then evolved into what we refer to today as gospel music. The goal of this paper is to answer three main questions. What are the origins of African American religious music? How did this musical expression develop into a secular form of music? What is the future of African American religious music? These questions will be answered through factual research of African American traditions, artists, and various other sources.
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"I borrowed five dollars and sent out 500 copies of my song, If Your See My Savior,' to churches throughout the country," Dorsey emphatically stated. "It was three years before I got a single order. I felt like going back to the blues." Fortunately for Gospel music, he didn't. With pioneer singers such as Sallie Martin and Mother Willie Mae Ford Smith propagating his music, he stayed the course long enough to write over 800 songs and hear his music ascend from the first row pews to the choir stand, where it previously had been banned. To ensure the continual survival of Gospel Music, Dorsey founded the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses in 1932, an organization that is still in existence today. Thomas A Dorsey was a planter. The fruits of the harvest were the exceptional singers who spread gospel music around the country and indeed, the world in the years that followed. Mahalia Jackson, Clara Ward and James Cleveland are a few of the most notable gospel singers of the time. Mahalia Jackson had been accepted as a major voice of Gospel Music. She was well renowned in the music world long before she signed a lucrative contract with Columbia Records in the 1950's. Her star continued to rise, landing her on the "Ed Sullivan Show" and providing the opportunity for her to sing just before Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.