Gospel is , blues is

Scott Perry sp@MAIL.AWOD.COM
Fri Jun 19 07:56:20 EDT 1998


Ed wrote:

> While blues may be linked to 'Spirituals".  Gospel (relatively new form  of
> religeous music) from my understanding, was rejected from many churchs,(for
> being too bluesy until the work of Thomas Dorsey (Piano man for Ma Rainey and
> others) and others organized the a gospel movement.  If I am correct in that
> assumption (as stated by Dorsey in a film "someone say Amen") then Blues is
> the root and Gospel the fruit.

Although I never argued that gospel music is the "fruit" of either
the blues or spiritual "tree," I'll "go out on a limb" here (ouch,
that hurt), and disagree with my esteemed friend Mr. Vadas just
because I'm in an argumentative mood.

Although I am no authority on the origins of Gospel, I would argue
that it's development with the rise of "fundamentalists" religion in
the south during Reconstruction.  Although it is most often
associated with black churches it was also sung in white churches
although white churches discouraged "spontaneous" or
"overly-emotional" singing style -- big surprise.

So it would seem, if you've "bought" what I said so far, that gospel
"sprang" from the same "earth" at the same time as blues, ragtime and
jazz and was" nurtured" by many of the same influences, not the least
of which are racism and segregation.  Gospel, like blues, ragtime and
jazz were forms of cultural expression unique to the black community
and as such were,  IMHO, a way of "rebelling" against
white/"mainstream" culture.  All of these musical forms helped the
black community establish a unique cultural identity that, I would
argue, imbued them with pride and self-esteem in the face of  a
"mainstream" political system that had done everything it could to
strip it of an identity (and when that failed "separated" it).
Ironically, the "'mainstream" culture has raided the rich traditions
of black culture whenever it is "looking for something new."  What a
country!

Anyway.  I think with gospel we have yet another "tree" and not, as
Ed suggests,"fruit" of the blues "tree."  This would explain the
success of black artists throughout history such as Charley Patton,
Blind Boy Fuller, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Thomas Dorsey, Pops
Staples, Sam Cooke, et al being able to "swing from tree to tree"
(yes I know I'm going to regret using that metaphor, but I hope you
all understand that I mean nothing other than black artists playing
both gospel and blues with equal success).

BTW, "Say Amen Somebody" is a GREAT documentary.

Scott "Metaphor Monster" Perry



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