Edited by Azizi Powell
This post provides information about Black (African American) Gospel Quartet music and showcases nine examples of that music.
The content of this post is provided for religious, cultural, and aesthetic purposes.
All copyrights remain with their owners.
Thanks to all of the featured singers and other Black Gospel Quartet groups. Thanks also to those who are quoted in this post and thanks to the publishers of these examples on YouTube.
INFORMATION ABOUT BLACK GOSPEL QUARTET MUSIC
"What most African Americans would identify today as "gospel" began in the early 20th century. The gospel music that Thomas A. Dorsey, Sallie Martin, Willie Mae Ford Smith and other pioneers popularized had its roots in the blues as well as in the more freewheeling forms of religious devotion of "Sanctified" or "Holiness" churches...
The most popular [African American religious singing]* groups in the 1930s were male quartets or small groups such as The Golden Gate Quartet, who sang, usually unaccompanied, in jubilee style, mixing careful harmonies, melodious singing, playful syncopation and sophisticated arrangements to produce a fresh, experimental style far removed from the more somber hymn-singing. These groups also absorbed popular sounds from pop groups such as The Mills Brothers and produced songs that mixed conventional religious themes, humor and social and political commentary. They began to show more and more influence from gospel as they incorporated the new music into their repertoire...
Golden age (1940s – 1950s)
The new gospel music composed by [Thomas] Dorsey and others proved very important among quartets, who began turning in a new direction. Groups such as the Dixie Hummingbirds, Pilgrim Travelers, Soul Stirrers, Swan Silvertones, Sensational Nightingales and Five Blind Boys of Mississippi introduced even more stylistic freedom to the close harmonies of jubilee style, adding ad libs and using repeated short phrases in the background to maintain a rhythmic base for the innovations of the lead singers...
*The words in brackets are my addition to clarify this sentence
"Holiness" is a colloquial referent for Church Of God In Christ (COGIC) and other Pentecostal denominations. COGIC is predominately African American. Some people consider that referent to be disrespectful. “Holy Rollers”, another referent for COGIC and/or other Pentecostal church members- is even more disrespectful."...
Jubilee quartets were popular African-American religious musical groups in the first half of the 20th century. The name derives from the Fisk Jubilee Quartet, a group of male singers organized by students at Fisk University in 1871 to sing Negro spirituals, which had typically been sung by mixed choirs before then. Students at other historically black schools, such as Hampton Institute, Tuskegee Institute and Wilberforce University, followed suit.
The early jubilee quartets featured close harmonies, formal arrangements and a "flatfooted" style of singing that emphasized restrained musical expression and technique derived from Western musical traditions. Early quartets reinforced their respectable image by adopting uniforms that a university glee club might wear and discouraging improvisation.
What's a good MP3 music player w/OK speaker?
I have a disabled neighbor that likes to listen to Gospel music. Her old CD player is broken and I'd like to get her a more modern device to listen to music on.
Her eyesight and dexterity are not great and she's more or less bed-ridden, so an iPod-sized device might not work for her, but I would like to give her something that she wouldn't have to do reaching to use (like another CD player). I have no experience with handheld computers, but I think a device with a USB port on it for uploading MP3/WMA music files is the best option.
She might be able to use an ear jack, but a device with its own speaker would be ideal