The term “gospel” comes from the English language and is translated as “good news” or “gospel”. According to the etymology of the word, it refers to Christian cultural practices. Indeed, the gospel genre developed in American Protestant church culture. It has had the greatest impact on American pop music in the 20th and 21st centuries, but it is also important in its own right.
Gospel began to form in the African-American cultural context of late nineteenth-century America. Christian songs were called gospel hymns. The melody of this hymn was a synthesis of many popular cultures. Charles Tindley, a Methodist minister who lived from 1859 to 1933 and wrote the words and melodies for the hymns, is considered the creator of the genre.
Many American films depict church services in which the choir (often made up of black singers) sings with great power and passion, claps its hands, and dances. This is a standard gospel choir. The words of these hymns are very uplifting and optimistic. They talk about how to get help from love from above and how to keep going and not give up.
It could be argued that the great Whitney Houston grew up in a gospel choir. The singer’s mother was the director of such a choir, and it was there that she began her daughter’s vocal training. Whitney Houston remained committed to gospel music until the end of her life, and she performed many gospel songs with great energy.
This genre is where soul, blues, and rhythm and blues get their start. If you listen to some gospel compositions and identify their characteristics, you will hear echoes of this genre in almost all modern American music. Since 2015, there has also been a Grammy nomination for Best Gospel Performance every year, which shows that the gospel genre is not giving up.
Gospel music has a very open beat, a lot of rich melismatics, creative improvisation, lines that come out of nowhere, and polyphony that is sometimes very complicated.