DEAR GOOD CHRISTIAN FOLK--
Just a few thoughts on the topic....from a Black Pentecostal who grew up in the Black church from the late 1950's to the present.
1. "Going Black"--it's funny how this "trend" has emerged in the church world, especially now that black gospel music from all periods and all genres is available to the Body of Christ at large. Now that all these new music formats and file sharing have become prominent--in addition to recorded CD's and YouTube videos--churches are now singing and performing congregational and choral music from the black gospel idiom.
2. There are many ways to "go black", or incorporate authentic black gospel music into the worship life of your congregation.
The most important thing to remember is that the music should not be performed with those saccharine, "cutesy" arrangements left over from Hollywood TV variety shows, You don't have to use extreme tempos and frankl;y, much of the modern "urban sound" is not used in most black churches for worship, even if the youth choir may be using it.
3. Genres of Black Gospel music--
A. Congregational choruses--you can hear these on compilation albums of old black gospel favorites.There are many "old -school" choruses that you can learn on YouTube, and many uploaders now upload the lyrics.
B. Small ensemble songs--these songs were sung by quartets, quintests, sextets and various small grouops of singers.
You can listen to these on YouTube, as well as on traditional gospel music channels and websites.
C. Choral anthems--many of these were simply expanded arrangements of congregational devotional favorites. But you can also obtain sheet music for black gospel choral pieces on websites and at Christian music stores.
D. Music derived from Black Spirituals--these older songs from the slave period of African-american history are easy to sing,
and contain profound texts expressed in simple ways. You can find good collections of these songs in modern hymnals devoted to black sacred Christian music.
4. A word about modern black gospel--many of these pieces don't have the old flavor and bounce of the stuff from the 1960's and 1970's, and frankly, when the "R & B Lounge Music" sound of singers like Beyonce and Brandy came in, this music did not translate well to worship settings. Many urban gospel songs are either extremely slow--over 80% of them!--or extremely fast, at "merengue speed."
Next installment--resources for black sacred music!
"Jubilate Deo omnis terra!" (Psalm 100:1)
5. If you introduce African-american music to your congregation, remember to explain a little about the origin of the music--its
roots in worship--and don't be afraid to experiment with differerent instrumental settings. By listening and imitating what you see and hear on YouTube or other DVD's, you can pick up chordal structures and sounds distinctive to black gospel music.