This Saturday, Aug. 17, the First Church of God in Christ in Brooklyn will be hosting a great debate. Debators will discuss whether gospel music has become too worldly in order to appeal to the masses.
African-Americans such as Mahalia Jackson, called “the Queen of Gospel,” have played a huge role in the development of gospel music. Jackson also helped to further the efforts of the Civil Rights Movement by raising money for the Montgomery bus boycotts in 1956. However, the relationship between African-Americans and gospel music goes back to times of slavery.
When Africans were brought to America to do fieldwork, they were not allowed to continue the spiritual practices that they had in Africa; instead, they were forcefully converted to European Christianity. However, the change in spirituality did not mean a full separation between Africans and their native culture; instead, the ancestors adapted their native cultures and blended them with the European theologies.
Africans later used Black gospel music when they tried to escape from slavery. These songs relate to African spirituality and African-American history. But according to artists like Helen Baylor, in an interview with CBN, there is “a demonic component in the industry, fueled by greed, money.”
In his book “The Souls of Black Folk,” W.E.B. Du Bois said, “The melody of these slave songs stirred the nation, but the songs were soon half forgotten. Some, like ‘Near the Lake Where Drooped the Willow,’ passed into current airs, and their source was forgotten; others were caricatured on the ‘minstrel’ stage, and their memory died away.”
The First Church is attempting to begin dialogue on whether gospel music has become too lost in the problems of the world. The First Church of God in Christ is located at 221 Kingston Avenue, Brooklyn, and the event starts at 2 p.m.