Of the five senses, sounds have had the most significant impact since the beginning of our history. Sound is the most abstract piece of nature; one that is perceived differently. The sounds of birds, running water, and even the wind, have been studied, emulated and have become a fundamental part of the music. These are signs that bring humans closer to God.
The quest for hearing more sounds led man to make musical instruments and train the voice, laying the foundation of modern music.
With all this, people started searching for spiritual enlightenment; to find God. In Christianity, this gave rise to gospel music.
Gospel is a popular category of music, which aims to spread the message of Christianity. Biblical passages and commandments heavily inspire the lyrics, and it is a huge part of church congregations.
Diving into the roots of this genre, we’ll find traces of it as early as the 17th century. The 18th century saw the arrival of world-famous hymns like Amazing Grace. It started out as a lyric-only song, with a standardized tune coming over the years.
The 19th century saw the normalization of church songs. Philip Biss released a songbook called ‘Gospel Songs: A Choice of Hymns and Tunes’ to describe a style of church music. It was part of the mass revival movement and aimed to make song composition easy. It certainly was effective, as a significant number of new songs were written and composed. The arrival of radio gave gospel music a further lift, making it popular in every Christian household.
The era between the ’20s and the ’70s saw the rise of the ‘Black gospel.’ With newer genres of music and new electric equipment becoming popular, congregations adjusted tunes to keep them relevant and trendy enough for the youth. It was readily accepted and soon became mainstream. Genres such as rock and blues were promoted and endorsed by recording artists and received critical acclaim. The era encouraged the rise of musical groups such as the ‘Five Blind Boys of Mississippi’. These influences were also carried on by some of the greatest global artists of that time, such as Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley (his rendition of Amazing Grace is a globally loved tune), and the Beatles. The Beatles came up with their own song, ‘Let It Be’, which topped the global charts for a long time.
However, changing times meant shifting genres, and the era after the ’80s saw the rise of electro-pop music and hip-hop. These genres meant more melody and relatability with the youth to keep them hooked.
Modern pop gave rise to artists like Kirk Franklin, who were heavily influenced by R&B, hip-hop and blues. He became highly popular, with many albums sold across the states and live shows performed all over the country. If you search the web for , you can get relevant details about his portfolio, performances, and future shows.
Artists like him are highly skilled with melodious voices that make their audiences swoon. But the new generation is looking beyond all the intricate notes and melodies. The trend shows that this new generation is more into hip-hop than any other genres that have remained popular in the past.
Hip-hop fundamentally encompasses rap with synthesized beats and electronic melodies. It has suddenly taken the world by storm. With its origins lie in West African and African American cultures, hip-hop is all about graffiti, dance, and powerful lyrics to deliver a meaningful message. Unlike other genres, no intricate vocals or music is there, and because of its simplicity, the genre has become a household favorite. Can it be the future of this industry?
What lies in the future remains to be seen. However, the industry can follow certain timeless norms/trends to stay relevant to all ages.
Diversified Musical Styles
Not only does the genre appeal to a greater audience, but it also breaks the boundaries of race and ethnicity. It has helped the industry stay relevant across various age groups also. It gives a lot more incentive to attend Sunday congregation while imparting Biblical lessons.
The current songs all recycle the same cliches, praising, joy, and happiness. The genre lacks and needs to popularize songs that cover the negative aspects of the controversial elements of Biblical faith. The songs propagate only faux positivity when speaking to cultural, religious and social justice issues but dispelling toxic hope and creating hard-hitting songs can create disruptive waves that keep the genre alive and popular.
Free Artistic Expression
Global acclaim for gospel songs has largely been thanks to the blending of different genres, and that only became possible because of freedom of expression and the freedom to explore. To truly ascend the boundaries of conventional gospel music, contemporary artists need to step out of the box and let go of the arbitrary rules while finding creative ways to bring to life the message of God.
Let them work with passion on their project; because anything with true passion always yields great results. Who knows; this freedom may lead these artists to work outside the set genres and they reach out to a great audience at once? As they say, it’s God’s spirit working through these artists.
Music is a form of expression, and there is no one way of expressing or delivering a message. Gospel music has been around for so long because it spreads the Holy message through music, and it has employed the evolving ways of music to do its bidding. Music touches the soul deeply, strikes the right chords, and awakens the true spirit of religion. All genres of music are good, and delivering meaningful messages through expressive tunes and lyrics is the best way to reach the depths of the soul.