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Most observers believe that gospel music has been sung in African American churches since their organization in the late 1800s. Yet nothing could be further from the truth, as Michael W. Harris's history reveals. Working through the blues and gospel movement. Harris reconstructs the rise of gospel blues within the context of early twentieth century African American cultural history.
After a nervous breakdown and a subsequent religious conversion in 1928. Dorsey began to write gospel songs with blues accompaniments. His introduction of these "goals" into Chicago's Afro-Baptist churches during the 1930s stirred clashes between recently arrived southern migrants who felt comforted by the new spirituals and old-line members who dismissed the songs as sacrilegious echoes of the slave past. After years of writing and publishing hudnreds of "songs with a message"-- such as "Take My Hand," "Precious Lord," and "There Will Be Peace in the Valley"-- and training gospel singers such as Mahalia Jackson, Dorsey had earned the title of "father" of gospel blues by the early 1940s. Delving into the life of the most prominent person in the advent of the gospel song movement. Harris illuminates not only the evolution of this popular musical form, but also the thought and social forces that forged the culture in which this music was shaped.
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