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
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