Sunday, December 18, 2005

A Provocative Quote From the Queen of Soul

"Gospel is and will always be an integral part of who I am. Gospel is the good news--His birth, His life, His resurrection. Gospel is all feeling and faith and about the life and techings and miracles and trials and prophecies of Jesus, a music of unshakable conviction and determination that things will get better. Its root is rock-solid optimism and the certain knowledge that God is real.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I am a traditionalist when it comes to gospel, and it doesn't mean I don't appreciate the modern forms. There are many ways to praise the Lord. Different generations hear different beats. I must say, though, that when the bass lines are pure boogie and the beats are pure funk, I wouldn't call it gospel. And when it makes you want to dance and pop your fingers, believe me, it isn't gospel. When the performer's body language is funking so hard as to be religiously disrespectful, then I wouldn't call it gospel. Gospel is a higher calling; gospel is about God. Gospel is about beautiful and glorious voices and spirit-filled performances and people who are anointed. When it comes to God's music, men like Joe Ligons and James Cleveland and Claude Jeter have some of the voices I like best. I need that old-fashioned, stick-to-your-ribs gospel, the kind that will carry you as far as you need to go. As Dr. King used to say after a dynamite dinner, 'I can go around the world on a meal like that.' Well, I can go around the world on the best gospel."

--Aretha Franklin in Aretha: From These Roots by Aretha Franklin and David Ritz

Thoughts? Responses?

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Rod said...

That's one of the most beautiful descriptions of gospel music I have ever heard. When it comes to music, the term "gospel" can be very subjective as it pertains to authenticity. As long as Jesus or God is mentioned at least once in the song and there are not any cuss words or explicit sexual references, you have typically met the criteria for gospel music.

Now, quality and depth is another matter all together. We have a lot to learn from those old negro spirituals and original gospel songs. I am afraid most of our connection to that tradition has more to do with style than substance.

LaTonya said...

I agree. I really believe it's important to look to the spirituals for the richness and authenticity they capture. The spirituals teach me how to live in a way that is rooted in reality and hopeful about the future.