Wednesday, March 25, 2009

15 Songs for the Uninitiated

Oh, hello, Blogosphere,

Posting has been light for a while, but I'm still here. I'm still writing about gospel, but lately it's been in a more scholarly tone (I just finished a paper on Praise & Worship). Still, I hope to resume light posting soon. I'm thinking through what that might look like.

Today, I faced the challenge of choosing 15 songs for a friend who is totally unfamiliar with gospel music. I had mentioned that I am often moved to tears when I listen to gospel music, and so I have to be careful what I listen to during my commute. She responded by sharing that gospel also makes her cry, but it's because she's only heard gospel music when she's attended funerals.

So I decided to make a list of 15 songs for her to download. But I wasn't sure what should go in this playlist: Should I try to cover the history of gospel music in 15 songs? Should I focus on contemporary gospel music? Should I try to pull a song from each of the various sub-genres of gospel? Maybe I should choose 15 songs that changed gospel music. Should I highlight the famous families? Should I choose the deep theological stuff, or the lighter fare?

Well, here's the list I gave her:

1. Oh, Happy Day—Edwin Hawkins Singers
2. Going Up Yonder—Walter Hawkins
3. Magnify—Byron Cage
4. I Believe—Darlene McCoy
5. Trust Him—Vickie Winans
6. Friend of God—Israel and New Breed
7. L.O.U.D. L.O.U.D.—Fred Hammond
8. Anthem of Praise—Richard Smallwood
9. Available to You—Rev. Milton Brunson & The Thompson Community Singers
10. The Question Is–The Winans
11. Dare to Believe—Commissioned
12. You Brought the Sunshine—The Clark Sisters
13. Power Belongs to God—Hezekiah Walker and the Love Fellowship Crusade Choir
14. Believer—Mary Mary
15. Wings of Your Prayer—Take 6

Let's critique this list. What did I leave out? What genres are not represented here? What gospel classics should really be on this list? My observation is that most of this is fairly contemporary--the oldest song here is "Oh, Happy Day." I'm missing holy hip hop, and, aside from Take 6, there's not much jazz.

What do you think? Let's get this discussion going, and see how this playlist evolves.