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Download Singing in My Soul: Black Gospel Music in a Secular Age epub

by Jerma A. Jackson

Black gospel music grew from obscure nineteenth-century beginnings to become the leading style of sacred music in black American communities after World War II. Jerma A. Jackson traces the music's unique history, profiling the careers of several singers--particularly Sister Rosetta Tharpe--and demonstrating the important role women played in popularizing gospel.Female gospel singers initially developed their musical abilities in churches where gospel prevailed as a mode of worship. Few, however, stayed exclusively in the religious realm. As recordings and sheet music pushed gospel into the commercial arena, gospel began to develop a life beyond the church, spreading first among a broad spectrum of African Americans and then to white middle-class audiences. Retail outlets, recording companies, and booking agencies turned gospel into big business, and local church singers emerged as national and international celebrities. Amid these changes, the music acquired increasing significance as a source of black identity.These successes, however, generated fierce controversy. As gospel gained public visibility and broad commercial appeal, debates broke out over the meaning of the music and its message, raising questions about the virtues of commercialism and material values, the contours of racial identity, and the nature of the sacred. Jackson engages these debates to explore how race, faith, and identity became central questions in twentieth-century African American life.
Download Singing in My Soul: Black Gospel Music in a Secular Age epub
ISBN: 0807855308
ISBN13: 978-0807855300
Category: History
Subcategory: Americas
Author: Jerma A. Jackson
Language: English
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press (April 19, 2004)
Pages: 193 pages
ePUB size: 1130 kb
FB2 size: 1452 kb
Rating: 4.1
Votes: 856
Other Formats: txt rtf lrf lrf

This is an excellent little book. It gives a basic overview of how gospel came about and how it came to the mainstream and who took it there. We are introduced to Arizona Dranes, Thomas Dorsey, Rosetta Tharpe, and
Sally Martin. I had never heard of Arizona before and am encourage to read more about her.

Marie Knight was at one time partners with Rosetta Tharpe. These words of hers resonated with me:

Marie Knight vividly described the corporate culture that pervaded the industry, providing a look behind the glitter and glamour of popular culture. "There's more to recording than just walking in the studio," she explained. "Every minute is counted. All the minutes you burn up." For a musical group, she continues, "all the time that's wasted comes out of the leader's check." Similarly, the success or failure of any singer or musician did not rest solely on skill but also hinged on the willingness of managers to invest in the music. "It's not what you know," Knight reiterated on several occasions, stressing the importance of what she called "financial background." "It's who you know. If you expect to go anyplace, you got have a background."

I recommend this book.
This book, whose title doesn't seem so inviting, is one of the best I've read about gospel music. One of the key points Jerma A. Jackson makes is that gospel's signifficance as marker of black identity has followed it's rise from religious marginality in pentecostal denominations to mainstream entertainment. Gospel has come to mean a lot of different things to different people. To this reader, people most likely to utter general statements about black gospel as "culture" and such, would not likely have been the inventors of it. Pentecostals may have been the most faithful carriers of "african retentions", but they were all about Jesus, not about "blackness".

I hope this doesn't distract from the books many attracting and interesting observations. One of them is that female christian singers, because of their focus away from worldly things, could invade "male aesthetic territory" with a lot more ease than secular artists like the blues singer Memphis Minnie. This perspective on religious music is interesting, as it shows that faith may liberate or empower people to think and act in ways that secular discourses deny them.