Friday, October 1, 2010

on clarification

Ok, so I just re-read my last blog post, and I realized that I left out a REALLY IMPORTANT POINT about my gospel music class and why I don't like it.

My class focuses on white gospel.  You probably have no idea what that is, because I sure didn't, and definitely signed up for the course thinking it was going to be about something different.  Even when I found out it was white gospel, I thought, "Cool!  Like O Brother, Where Art Thou?  Because I seriously love that music."

"No," I wish someone would've said to me, "not like that at all, actually, and you should probably drop this course while you still can because this music is going to be like a cheese grater on your soul for 18 long weeks.  Did I mention you should drop this course?"

"So what is white gospel?", you're wondering.  "And why do I feel uncomfortable reading a term that is so flagrantly non-PC?"

Well, "white gospel" is actually the standard research term, believe it or not.  And this is what it sounds like:

With some slight variation, that is the majority of white gospel that we're studying.  Twangy and repetitive and irritating.  For all I know, that's the majority of ALL white gospel.

What did I expect to be studying?


(jump to :30)

Black.  Gospel.  The origins of Mahalia Jackson, Aretha Franklin, and the greats.

Same song, completely different style...especially at 1:45, which is my favorite part.  I won't ask if you can feel the difference, because of course you can.  It's not the people singing it, of course--despite what the names would suggest, white and black gospel songs aren't classified by race, but style.  Singers of black gospel sing around the beat, improvise, interject, and almost never sing the same song twice, making it reflect their unique personalities and encouraging the crowd to do the same.  Isn't that what gospel should be?  If you're going to sing about your soul, SING.  White gospel singers (for the most part) keep to the routine, the format, the structure, and they just don't bring their personalities to the table like black gospel singers do.

In the aforementioned class of mine, we've touched briefly on black gospel (mainly the early spirituals), but not as much as it deserves.  Black gospel reaches my soul.  White gospel makes me reach for my mute button.