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Columbia College Chicago
Gospel Music

Gospel Music

Definition of Style

The term "gospel music" refers to African-American Protestant vocal music that celebrates Christian doctrine in emotive, often dramatic ways. Vocal soloists are the best-known exponents of gospel, but vocal and choral groups of widely varying sizes have also helped to define the style. In gospel, simple melodies are heavily ornamented by blue notes, glissandi, and a dramatic use of a wide vocal range; and the form conducts an ongoing dialogue of influence with blues, jazz, pop, rap, and folk styles. Major artists associated with gospel music include Mahalia Jackson, James Cleveland, and the Soul Stirrers. Thomas A. Dorsey is counted among the major twentieth-century composers in the form.


Musical Example