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.
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.