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How Sweet the Sound: The Golden Age of Gospel Hardcover – September, 1995
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From Library Journal
Reports from as early as the 1750s describe slaves singing sacred songs in a style featuring a leader singing a line followed by the same line sung by the congregation. The rhythm of their native lands along with the singers' identification with the plight of the Israelites in the land of the Pharaoh gave the old lyrics new passion and poignancy. But for 200 years African American sacred folk music remained largely ignored by whites. For the first half of this century, its message could be spread only through "race records" and over small radio stations with signals reaching only as far as the local African American community. In the mid-1950s, Mahalia Jackson's appearance on the Dinah Shore Show and the Clara Ward Singers' appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival brought gospel music into the mainstream. Boyer (music, Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst) does an excellent job in presenting an overview of the artists, composers, and styles of this underappreciated American music. Strongly recommended.?Dan Bogey, Clearfield Cty. P.L. Federation, Curwensville, Pa.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Former professional gospel singer Boyer makes an absorbing contribution to the rather meager popular literature on African American gospel music. Rather than approaching gospel sociologically, he emphasizes its roots in enthusiastic Christianity--particularly the first (eighteenth-century New England) and second (early-1800s upper South) Great Awakenings and the Pentecostal movement born during the 1906 Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles--and in the post^-Civil War religious choral style called jubilee. To tell gospel's story through the 1960s, he proceeds bio-chronologically, couching accounts of important songwriters and singers in coverage of the music's stylistic changes. At the heart of the book is gospel's golden age, 1945^-55, when, thanks to the advent of black-run radio programs and record companies, a performance circuit for gospel singers arose and nurtured an explosion of talent. Boyer is generous but always balanced in his presentation of gospel's great performers, discussing them so intelligently and informatively that anyone who loves early and golden age gospel will love his book, too. Ray Olson
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