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.


Bob Marovich said...

Hi, LaTonya -- happy to see you back at the blog! I'd suggest Marvin Sapp's "Never Would Have Made It." If it's available on iTunes, gospel quartet doesn't get much better than the Soul Stirrers' "By and By" from 1950.

Joseph M. said...

I think you should have added some classics by artists such as Clara Ward, Roberta Martin, The Caravans, and James Cleveland.

Kirk said...

I was surprised that Kirk Franklin didn't make the list. Too mainstream? I would have picked "Revolution" or maybe "My Life Is In Your Hands". How about John P. Kee "Clap Your Hands"? Or what about "Order My Steps"? I suppose that 15 songs is pretty limiting.

But, I appreciated this list because I was not aware of several of these tracks. Thank you.

Bob Marovich said...

Narrowing it down to fifteen tracks is pretty daunting, in any event! Great work!


Great to see you back in the blogersphere.

Some songs you may want to throw in, just for keepssake and for gospel heritage reasons are:

Peace Be Still - James Cleveland & the Angelic Choir
Lost Without You - BeBe & CeCe Winans
Optimistic - Sounds of Blackness
I'll Take You There - Staple Singers
Jesus - Shirley Caesar
Stomp - God's Property featuring Kirk Franklin
Wonderful - The Soul Stirrers featuring Sam Cooke
People Get Ready - The Impressions
Jesus Is Real - New Life Community Choir featuring John P. Kee
Tommorrow - Winans
Too Close to Heaven - Alex Bradford
How I Got Over - Aretha Franklin

Of course making a list choosing fifteen songs in hard enough for any genre. Gospel can be much tougher.

LaTonya said...

Ah. Good critiques, all. Any of these would have been good additions/substitutes. And Kirk Franklin--yes, that was a pretty serious omission. Yikes!

Anonymous said...

"Where is Mighty High" by The Mighty Clouds Of Joy? This song is just as important to the evolution of black contemporary gospel music as was "Oh Happy Day" It is a must on any list IMHO.

Nice Blog.

Stephen L said...

When Jesus Comes - Sara Jordan Powell

Bob Marovich said...

I agree with you Stephen. I'm a Johnny-come-lately to that song, but when I heard it, I knew I'd experienced the great Sara!

LaTonya Bynum said...

Great list!

TruSoulDJ said...

All of the songs on your list are good, but you're forgetting something important. You mentioned that she said Gospel music makes her cry. But then you put all of these songs on your list that made ME want to cry as I read the list.

I'll make a list later, because I'm at work and need to go catch my bus. But real quick ... I was once asked to make a list of 100 songs that changed Gospel music. This was for a former print magazine called Gospel Flava (not to be confused with the site). So I put on a lot of songs that encouraged me growing up. After all, the magazine was geared towards young adults. But my list was altered and many of my Christian Rap and Urban Contemporary songs were replaced with golden age tunes.
So the question is: Are you making a playlist to encourage, inspire or give a historical overview? Talk to you later.

LaZeric Fridell Freeman said...

Top 20 songs for a Young Adult Gospel Starter Kit:

1. Jesus Loves Ya - Jon Gibson

2. I Can Love Again - Commissioned
3. No Wed No Bed - Apostle Louis Greenup/ Fred Hammond
4. Testimony of A Gangsta - GodQuest
5. Crazy When It Comes To You - Margaret Bell
6. You Are So Awesome - Youthful Praise

7. I Am God - Kirk Franklin/ Toby Mac

8. Jesus Saves - Perfecting Church feat Marvin Winans

9. Calling My Name - Hezekiah Walker

10. Pick Yourelf Up - D*Boy Rodriguez

11. I'll Be Right There - Nicole C. Mullens
12. Wave It Away - New Life Community Choir
13. You Didn't Have To Do It - Crystal Lewis
14. Just When - Vickie Winans feat Marvin Winans

15. Dreams - Anointed

16. From The Heart - Keith Staten

17. There's No Excuse - Commissioned

18. In My Name - Thompson Community Singers

19. I Cry - Daniel Winans

20. Tomorrow - The Winans

LaTonya said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LaTonya said...

Oh, yes. These suggestions are good, as well. Next time I'll make a longer list!