“One Lord, one faith, one baptism.”
The Apostle Paul made clear that there is a uniting principle in this life of faith. While Jesus’ message was to the world, Paul’s message was to the established church and post-Resurrection believers. In the same way the Apostle Paul’s message appealed to a different audience at a different point in their life, so should packaged gospel music. Let’s talk about that, here…
It’s 2018 and I’m snapping my fingers to gospel music, please don’t tell my mama! On second thought, let her hear it, she may snap her fingers too! I love many of the current offerings in gospel music, today- I really do! I love the diversity, I love the wide range of expression…I love that people are being drawn using the various giftings within our genre.
As a musician, I have always hated how boxed in gospel music used to be. I hated that we couldn’t swing too hard (jazz), bump too hard (rap) or make the audience, er congregation swoon like an R&B tune. Well, we do it all now and there are some really solid gospel songs out there. Just when you think gospel music has gone too far, meet Judah Band who’s debut single was “For My Good” a country bump…read that again, a country bump! Their three song EP is so rich, I bought the first time I heard it!
The gospel music I’m talking about is sonically and theologically sound and not necessarily my grandmother’s music. It’s not my mama’s music, though she’ll listen to some of it. In fact, mainly because I’ve played it in a band or on my station. In the 80’s, Milton Brunson & the Thompson Community Choir had an amazing band. Synthesizers, horns…they had it all and not only on fast songs like today! The horns on “There Is No Way” fill out the song unlike many arrangers do today! On “Jesus Is a Rock”, you can feel the moog bass throughout the song. In my interview with Percy Bady, I got to talk to him about that band!
Enter Kirk Franklin and the Family in 1993. His choral arranging and combination of talking/singing on lead vocals helped revolutionize gospel music, but not without his band who picked up where the “Tommies” left off! Of course John P. Kee and Hezekiah Walker had great bands (what a pen and musical mind Melvin Crispell had) but the Family band was top notch! Bobby Sparks, Jerome Harmon, Eric Morgan, Jerome Allen and later Todd Parsnow (who changed guitar playing in gospel music and helped create monsters Mark Lettieri under his tutelage).
As a musician, I LOVE music! As a believer, I love the gospel message…why do the two have to be separate? As I said in another article, there are Sunday songs, then there are songs for life between Sundays! While not every song may be “suitable” for Sunday, that doesn’t negate its intrinsic gospel characteristics…and I don’t mean trap gospel, either! (LOL) Seriously, you can make music without direct imitiations of secular/mainstream music! And, I think that’s another great point…originality within the confines of gospel music has yet to be fully celebrated!
Why, though? The checklist is short: 1. Does it reverence God? 2. Is it scripturally sound? Again, not every song is suitable for Sunday mornings, but we don’t live at church now do we? The answer is no and because we have sanctified the Lord in our hearts (1 Peter 3:15), we don’t have to be at church to worship or live a reverential lifestyle!
Got it? We are monotheistic meaning that we worship only God Almighty (YHWH) but not monolithic in that our expression of worship is not the same! Whether you choose to lay prostrate every time or snap a finger and do a step, love today’s gospel music and support it!
Current Album Playlist:
Judah Band- For My Good
Red Hands- Your Will
Nashville Life- My God
Brian Courtney Wilson- A Great Work
Jermaine Dolly- The Dolly Express
Jonathan McReynolds- Make Room
Quinese Atkins- All Things
Tasha Page-Lockhart- The Beautiful Project
Cheryl Fortune- Simply Cheryl
Anthony Brown & Group TherApy- A Long Way From Sunday