When Sunday Comes: Gospel Music in the Soul and Hip-Hop Eras

Univ. of Illinois. Nov. 2020. 288p. ISBN 9780252043574. $125; pap. ISBN 9780252085475. $22.95. MUSIC
Beginning with the death of Mahalia Jackson in 1972, Harold (African American and African studies, history; Univ. of Virginia; New Negro Politics in the Jim Crow South) tracks the progression of gospel music to the present decade, exploring the musical careers and ministries of some of its most successful contemporary stars in depth. She highlights the social, cultural, racial, and historical pressures that have influenced gospel’s development before and since the early 1970s and impacted these musicians’ careers in ways both to their benefit and to their detriment. Martin Luther King Jr. famously referred to Sunday morning as the most segregated hour in America; likewise, gospel largely evolved in parallel to forms of devotional music primarily created and performed by white people. Harold emphasizes the shift to crossover efforts starting in the 1980s, as contemporary Christian music labels began signing gospel artists. Gospel music crossed over in other ways as well, mutually influencing soul, R&B, and hip-hop and achieving crossover commercial success. Throughout, the tension between creating, producing, and performing music as ministry on the one hand, and for artistic and commercial success on the other, persists.
VERDICT A multilensed view of a continually evolving and consistently vibrant art form. For gospel fans, music scholars, and scholars of African American history and culture generally.
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