Gospel Music Goes Beyond Church Services Gospel Music Goes Beyond Church Services

Singers say gospel music plays a special part in their lives

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – Gospel music is a highly anticipated part of the Black church experience. The songs move people to sing freely, clap loudly, move unashamedly and express emotions without fear of judgement. Rev. Deanna Daniel was introduced to the genre when she was a young girl.

“My mom used to bring us to church every Sunday when we were little,” Daniel said.

When she was around four years old, she discovered her passion for singing. Her love for singing gospel music carried over into her adult life and influenced her to become a worship pastor.

The singer’s love for being a worship pastor stems from understanding God’s love for her and wanting to share that with other people.

“If you’re singing and witnessing to people through song, you’re not asking them to do anything except for open up their hearts and hear the message,” Daniel said.

Daniel believes the music causes people to reflect on life circumstances and gain hope to persevere.The worship pastor also believes gospel music is a staple in the Black church since it has given the Black community hope through centuries of mistreatment.

“We are a people who have endured struggle but have also understood the power of faith and prayer and singing,” Daniel said.

The expression of faith through praying and singing can be traced back to slavery. Slaves sang Negro spirituals, which were also known as “work songs.” The spirituals helped slaves pass time while working and were a mode of communication between each other and God.

Spirituals like “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child” and “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” expressed struggle and a comparison to Jesus’ struggles. Harriet Tubman used the spiritual “Go Down, Moses” to identify herself to other slaves who wanted to be free.

Jean Baylor is a jazz arts professor at the Manhattan School of Music and a three-time Grammy-nominated artist. She believes spirituals were birthed from the souls of slaves.

“Negro spirituals were like a way out of no way,” Baylor said. “That was one way out of no way that came out of us.”

The professor believes spirituals helped slaves maintain their humanity.

“We had to hold on to anything that we could possibly hold on to to maintain,” Baylor said.

Today’s gospel music was influenced by musician Thomas A. Dorsey, according to historians. He combined the sounds of jazz and blues to the spirituals he heard in church as a child. Historians consider Dorsey to be the father of gospel music.

“Gospel will continue to stand the test of time if it is rooted in the word of God and if it’s created with the foundational purpose of drawing people to him,” Baylor said.

Along with gospel, Baylor believes every form of American music was influenced by the spirituals. This includes blues, jazz, R&B, pop, rock and country.

This is why the Grammy-nominated artist believes gospel music is limitless and will continue to inspire what’s heard for years to come.

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