Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Black Gospel Music Restoration Project Spotlighted on iTunes U

Good news out of Texas regarding the preservation of Golden Era Gospel!

From a Press Release:

Baylor's Black Gospel Music Restoration Project Is in the Spotlight on iTunes U

Baylor University's Black Gospel Music Restoration Project, the most popular download on Baylor's iTunes U site, will be added to Apple's top featured graphics this week -- timing that coincides with Black History Month.

The continuing restoration project -- to identify, acquire, digitally record and catalog the most at-risk music from the black gospel music tradition from the 1940s to the 1980s -- is led by Robert Darden, associate professor of journalism at Baylor University.

Sixteen songs from the project are available on iTunes U, among them such black gospel treasures as "Ain't That Right," "Great Get'n Up Morning," "Old Ship of Zion" and "This Train is Bound for Glory."

Darden's search has turned up 78s, 45s, LPs and music in various taped formats used in the United States and abroad. Those involved in the project also are compiling taped interviews, informal photos, music programs, newspaper clippings and sheet music.

The project is accessible through a graphic link at the top of the front page of Apple's iTunes U service, said Colin Witt, director of electronic communications for Baylor University. The link will be featured for two weeks.

"Baylor is happy to be a part of iTunes U and to work with Apple on exciting projects such as this one," Witt said. "The opportunity to feature unique research work taking place at Baylor is exactly the reason we wanted to be a part of the iTunes U community."

The project grew out of a 2005 editorial by Darden, published in The New York Times, in which he shared his concern that while contemporary gospel was thriving, early gospel might be lost forever.

While albums by such legends as Mahalia Jackson are readily available on CD, music recorded by lesser known greats such as the Sensational Nightingales and the Spirit of Memphis were hard to find, he noted.

"For an unabashed fan like me, it's a painful situation," he wrote. "I realize that no corporation is going to put out albums just to please a few aficionados, but they may not realize that many people want to hear this music."

He was approached by several people interested in preserving music from "the Golden Age of Gospel Music." Among the financial contributors were Charles M. Royce, chairman of the board of TICC Capital Corp. in Greenwich, Conn., and Harold and Dottie Riley of Austin.

One of the major contributors of records was Bob Marovich, a Chicago collector and founder of The Black Gospel Blog.

"It is from his collection of gospel 45s that the majority of the iTunes U songs were drawn," Darden said.

Besides Darden and Witt, others at Baylor University contributing their talents to the ongoing project are Dr. Gardner Campbell, director of the Academy for Teaching and Learning at Baylor, who has done interviews with Darden and Marovich for the site; and Tim Logan, assistant vice president for Baylor's Electronic Library, who has helped identify and prepare tracks to use.

"It has been a real pleasure working with such talented, hard-working folks," Darden said.

The project's site also includes an interview Campbell did with Darden called "A Gospel Journey" and a joint interview with Darden and Marovich, presented in several segments.

In addition to the 16 tunes posted on the iTunes U site, about 180 partial tracks are provided, Witt said. Logan said Baylor has obtained about 1,500 records for preservation.

Baylor launched its iTunes U site in September 2009. It offers free downloads of more than 400 audio and video files. Among site highlights are episodes of Inside Baylor Sports, podcasts such as KWBU's Wordwise, lectures and speeches.

For more information about Baylor's Black Gospel Music Restoration Project, visit or see the links on the right side of the page.

For the project's iTunes U site, visit

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Gospel Music Museum to Open in Chicago

Hey there,

This is a short and simple post, but it is of GREAT importance. I found out today from Bob Marovich that Rev. Stanley Keeble in Chicago wants to open a Gospel Music Museum. This is fantastic news! I hope that Rev. Keeble can get the funding necessary to open the museum, and thus expose a new generation to the contributions made to gospel music by those pioneers from the Golden Era of Gospel.

ABC 7 in Chicago aired a story about Rev. Keeble's plans on February 17th. You can view the video below.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Golden Era Valentine's Day Word

By: Joseph Middleton

During the Golden Era of Gospel, it was not uncommon to see entire albums dedicated solely to sermons. Some of these popular preachers of the day who recorded sermons included Rev. C.L. Franklin, Rev. Morgan Babb, and Rev. Willie Morganfield just to name a few. Yet, as time went on into the 1980s and 1990s, new sermon albums were rendered obsolete once churches began their own in-house production. Now, a preacher could preach a sermon and have it recorded live, and available for purchase on tape and CD immediately after service. No longer did one have to wait months for the record company to put a sermon out for home enjoyment. Now, you could have that same sermon in your hand just minutes after it ended.

On February 14, 1965, Valentine's Day at Friendship Baptist Church in Houston, TX, Rev. Omie Lee "O.L." Holliday, the father of Jennifer Holliday, preached a sermon titled "How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You." In the sermon, Rev. Holliday makes it known that he borrowed the title of the sermon from Marvin Gaye's 1964 hit single of the same name. The sermon was released on LP for Jewel Records in 1966. Rev. Holliday recorded more sermons for Jewel and pastored many churches across America. Rev. Holliday died on June 1, 1987.

While the sermon is hard to find today for purchase, here are links to the entire sermon broken up into 4 parts. You'll notice how dated the sermon sounds today, with references to "modern" dances such as The Mashed Potato and The Dog. Still, it's a nice look into yesteryear, and a good example of old time preaching. Enjoy!





Friday, February 12, 2010

Performing in the United States for the second time since 1958: The Golden Gate Quartet

For only the second time since 1958, The Golden Gate Quartet will be performing in the United States. Formed on March 28, 1934, The Golden Gate Quartet started off as a traditional Jubilee style gospel quartet and reached the height of their popularity during the 30s and 40s. In the late 40s and early 50s, quartets such as the Soul Stirrers and the Dixie Hummingbirds proved more popular among audiences with their hard style of singing. The Golden Gate Quartet continued to sing in their old style and toured Europe for the first time in 1955 before permanently relocating to Paris, France in 1959.

Here is some information about their upcoming, rare stateside appearance.

Sunday, February 28, 2010 - 3:30 p.m. (Doors open 3:00 p.m.)

Rev. Brenda Boone Productions & Higher Praise Community Choir Presents
A Legendary and Historical Black History Celebration Featuring

The Legends of Gospel

The Legendary Golden Gate Quartet - Paris, France led by longtime member Clyde Wright

The Legendary Sensational Nightingales - Durham, NC

Special Guest: Damon Little - Baltimore, MD

Recently Added: Luther Barnes & the Sunset Jubilaires - Rocky Mount, NC

...and many other musical guests.

Holy Light Church, 1918 Lincoln St., (Lincoln & Des Moines)
Portsmouth,VA - Bishop Carruth, Pastor

Pastor Gospel Comedian Steve Alexander
Elder James Phillips

Min. JJ Johnson
Bill Boykins, (WPCE 1400 A.M. Radio)

For more information, contact (757) 477-3828 or (757) 539-3384.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Reflection: Recognizance of Negro Spirituals In The Church

By: Joseph Middleton

Golden Era Gospel is true Americana. It is an art form and an expression of spirituality and faith. It is the story of a people, a message of salvation to a world that desperately needs to hear it. Its sounds range from a hard driving beat accompanied by squalling vocals which drive a congregation into a frenzy, to a simple chorus singing with a sound of urgency. These differing sounds of Golden Era Gospel owe their existence to a common musical ancestor, the Negro Spiritual.

It seems like perfect timing to mention Negro Spirituals on this blog seeing as it's February, which means it's Black History Month in the United States. While many churches regularly take a trip down "Old School Boulevard" some Sunday mornings, this time of the year may be the only time many Music Ministry Departments will take the time to depart from modern repertoire and touch a Negro Spiritual or a song from the Golden Era for just a few minutes, if at all. This is unfortunate. Just as it would be wrong for a high school U.S. History class to ignore the Founding Fathers, it should be just as wrong for a Music Ministry Department to ignore this important heritage, and ignore the songs of yesteryear. These sounds of divine inspiration provided hope and sustenance to those who have traveled before us on this pilgrim journey. I hope some Pastors and Ministers of Music will take heed to this message and help spread kernels of knowledge about these songs and their writers to their congregations through song and other presentations.

I'll conclude this post with a spoken word narrative by the late United States Congresswoman, Barbara Jordan of Houston, Texas. Jordan was accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of London as she spoke of the importance of Negro Spirituals and "The Gospel Train" as only she knew how, with eloquence and poise.

Barbara Jordan: The Gospel Train

As for me? I'm boarding the Gospel Train, won't you ride along with me? Come on aboard, there's room for many more!
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