Saturday, May 25th, 2019

Bonus Tracks for Week Ending May 25, 2019

We have more work by our writers to share with you this week!



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3 Responses to “Bonus Tracks for Week Ending May 25, 2019”

  1. The Cresset article was very interesting, but also horrifying for learning about that “the music can’t be that good” belief. It’s so galling, coming off of the Amazing Grace documentary recently finishing its theatrical run.
    Which makes it troubling that “gospel” doesn’t appear once in the article, and so presumably in either of the books, either? All of Evangelical America is apparently ignoring this entire genre (perhaps because the music is just too good)?

  2. AG, there’s not much reference to gospel in either book. Kelman acknowledges it as part of the music’s history, but doesn’t go further; Ingalls witnesses a gospel choir at an Urbana conference, and says, “among North American Protestants who seek to cultivate ethnic diversity within their congregations, gospel choirs are seen as a necessity” — the unfortunate implication being that there aren’t many of those congregations.

    In my limited experience — and Ingalls backs this up — black congregations frequently sing contemporary praise music by white composers, but white congregations rarely sing contemporary gospel music by black composers. (Spirituals are a different story, but they’re beyond the scope of either book.) It’s not that the music isn’t available. CCLI SongSelect, the major song database used by evangelical praise bands, contains plenty of gospel lead sheets by Kirk Franklin, Fred Hammond, Andrae Crouch, Israel Houghton, and so on. At my white Episcopal church, we just did Hammond’s “You Are the Living Word” as an Easter anthem, but I assigned the semi-improv solo to a hired outsider. I think a lot of it comes down to making the church’s musicians comfortable with that idiom. But you’re right, they’ll never get there if we don’t try. And then try again.

    (Amazing Grace was so good omg)

  3. One of my favorite anecdotes from playing in church bands: it was a (Baptist) church whose worship leader had moved elsewhere, so they were rotating through temporary worship leaders (which would double as auditions, I guess). We got this one guy who used to be a secular professional pianist. He would play club and band gigs, etc., before he converted to Christianity.
    So this guy’s approach to the song’s wasn’t just “read the sheet music,” it was to Perform the numbers and dive into the music with flair. And the other church band members, who were basically gig musicians, too, just lit up like I had never seen before. Actually getting! to play! music at their skill level! The “rehearsal” between services basically turned into one long jam session, it was amazing. But it also speaks to how dumbed down the music they’d normally play was, plodding and flat rhythms and bass lines. And all that worship leader had to do to bring new energy was inject a little jazz. So it’s not necessarily the musicians’ ability/comfort, but what they’re allowed to do.

    It seems to me that there’s a difference how people react to “the talent.” In white congregations, non-performers are a silent audience to showcase numbers, acknowledging “the talent” as separate from the congregation. Whereas in black congregations, a showboating performer invites calls of agreement/encouragement, to join in of their own accord. (The other main difference, of course, being the emphasis/allowance of dancing, which strongly influences what kinds of rhythms and arrangements are preferred.)