Urban/contemporary gospel is a modern form of Christian music that expresses either personal or a communal belief regarding Christian life, as well as to give a Christian alternative to mainstream secular music. Musically, it follows the trends in secular urban contemporary music. Urban/contemporary gospel is a recent subgenre of gospel music. Christian hip hop is a subtype of urban/contemporary gospel music.
Although the style developed gradually, early forms are generally dated to the 1970s, and the genre was well established by the end of the 1980s.
Origins and development
Protestant hymns and African-American spirituals make up the basic source material for traditional black gospel music, which in turn is the most significant source of urban/contemporary gospel. Urban/contemporary gospel has kept the spiritual focus of the traditional black gospel music, but uses modern musical forms.
Urban/contemporary gospel derives primarily from traditional black gospel music, with strong influence from, and strong influence on, many forms of secular pop music. Due to strong racial divisions in 20th century American culture, urban/contemporary gospel developed specifically out of the African-American musical traditions (Bream 1991). The equivalent music from white American culture is contemporary Christian music (Bream 1991). Although the racial lines have blurred in some areas, particularly with urban musical styles, these divisions are still evident in the industry (Burdick 2009). The color line divides artists with extremely similar musical styles on the basis of their race, and unites artists with divergent styles (such as rap and pop) on the same basis in industry reporting, marketing choices, and awards like the Grammy and Dove awards (Bream 1991).
During the 1970s, hit songs like Edwin Hawkins's "Oh Happy Day" and Andrae Crouch's "Take Me Back" were significant milestones in the development of urban/contemporary gospel music. Andrae Crouch is called the "godfather of contemporary gospel" (Waldron 2006).
Sacred ministry or entertainment?
Like most forms of Christian music in the last two centuries, artists have been criticized by Christians who see the new forms as too similar to secular music styles or insufficiently focused on traditional religious sentiments. Artists in the urban/contemporary styles have taken a variety of approaches to address these concerns from their fan bases (Darden 2004:302).
Times Square Church has great music
Here's a post I swiped from another forum about that church & others in NYC (long but you're gray so I can't email it)-
If in Times Square anyone want to check out a great thundering gospel band and 100 voice choir they're the 'house band' at Times Square Church at Broadway and west 51st street.
It's held in a really gorgeous neo classical theater that the church bought about 15 years ago. Says Times Square Church outside.
The band is led by a great jazz gospel sax player, a lot of soaring solos on the ballads