We'll Understand It Better By and By: Pioneering African American Gospel Composers / Edition 1

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Overview

From the congregations of small African churches in Memphis, Philadelphia, and Chicago to the nationwide fans of the Golden Gate Quartet, Mahalia Jackson, Sam Cooke, Edwin Hawkins and others, gospel music has profoundly influenced Americans. This book brings together some of the best pioneering composers and shows the impact of their work on music and culture in America and abroad.

From the congregations of small African churches in Memphis, Philadelphia, and Chicago to the nationwide fans of the Golden Gate Quartet, Mahalia Jackson, Sam Cooke, Edwin Hawkins and others, gospel music has profoundly influenced American culture. This book brings together some of the best pioneering composers and shows the impact of their work. Illustrations.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
A curator at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History and a noted gospel singer herself, Reagon presents a superb collection of essays—by academics who are also gospel performers or record producers—that focus on major figures in black gospel music: Charles A. Tindley, Lucie Campbell Williams, Thomas A. Dorsey, William H. Brewster Sr., Roberta Martin and Kenneth Morris. Highlights here are oral histories by Brewster and Morris, from interviews conducted by Reagon; a roundtable discussion by several former members of the Roberta Martin Singers; and Michael Harris's explication of Dorsey's life as a complex dialectic of the sacred and secular traditions of African-American culture. There is a no less profound tension between the messianic fervor of black Baptist and Pentecostal ritual practice, convincingly depicted in essays by Horace Clarence Boyer and Rev. Charles Walker, and an explicitly social gospel, as evidenced in Reagon's essay on Tindley. Finally, the dictates of the marketplace could not be avoided by even the most devoutly religious gospel performer, as Kenneth Morris, a music publisher and composer, reminds Reagon in an interview. Boyer's essays on each of the six composers are elegant combinations of biography and musical analysis, although some of the latter may be beyond the comprehension of non-musicians. Illustrations, bibliography and discography. (from Publishers Weekly; Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. —This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.)

This wonderful volume on the evolution of African-American gospel music and its influence on worship and contemporary music has something for everyone. An overview and introductory chapter define components of the genre. Individual chapters on six greats who pioneered and developed the musical tradition provide information on their philosophy and attitudes. Analyses and 49 complete piano and vocal scores are included. Most delightful of all are the accounts resulting from interviews with the featured composers, family members, and performers that present a personalized, comfortable step into their experiences and thoughts. Although a hefty book that will undoubtedly challenge competent readers if read straight through, its organization, various components, and extensive index allow flexible use for a variety of interests. (from School Library Journal YA; Jessica Lahr, Edison High School, Fairfax County, VA; Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. —This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.)

According to this volume, gospel is perhaps the sacred music phenomenon of this century. It has crossed over into the popular music spectrum and has contributed to a regard for African American music "that drives mainstream popular culture worldwide." The lives and works of six "pioneers" are analyzed here by distinguished contributors, who include Thomas Andrew Dorsey, William Brewster Sr., Roberta Martin, Charles Albert Tindley, and Kenneth Morris. Many famous songs are reproduced, and the overview section is filled with excellent general information about the history and recording of the gospel sound. This intellectual presentation is recommended for collections serving musicians and educators. (Index not seen.) (from Library Journal; Ina M. Wise, Daley Community Coll. Lib., Chicago; Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. —This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.)

Reagon . . . points out that the music of black Americans is at the base of the majority of popular music not only in this country, but in the world. . . . We'll Understand It Better By and By reaches back to the roots of gospel music and its genesis among African-Americans. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

This large, handsomely illustrated volume . . . explores the lives, times, and accomplishments of six of the most influential composers of gospel music: Charles A. Tindley, Lucie E. Campbell Williams, Thomas A. Dorsey, William H. Brewster, Sr., Roberta Martin, and Kenneth Morris. (American Historical Review)

With fascinating narratives, stories, and groundbreaking research, this momentous work is a landmark in the scholarship of gospel music. (The Griot)

With its useful bibliography, discography, interviews, and essays, this collection explors the 'rough side of the mountain' that these important but overlooked composers have traversed and vividly evoked throughout this century (Journal of American History)

A splendidly comprehensive and invaluable history of one of our most rousing and treasured forms of art and worship. . . . Reagon and her contributors explore every aspect of gospel's history, spiritual significance, and influence on secular music. (Booklist)

By eloquently and forcefully making a case for a spiritual core within African American gospel music, Reagon has paved the way for similar approaches to the investigation of appropriate genres in Western music. (American Music)

Philadelphia Inquirer
Reagon . . . points out that the music of black Americans is at the base of the majority of popular music not only in this country, but in the world. . . . We'll Understand It Better By and By reaches back to the roots of gospel music and its genesis among African-Americans.
Booklist
A splendidly comprehensive and invaluable history of one of our most rousing and treasured forms of art and worship. . . . Reagon and her contributors explore every aspect of gospel's history, spiritual significance, and influence on secular music.
American Historical Review
This large, handsomely illustrated volume . . . explores the lives, times, and accomplishments of six of the most influential composers of gospel music: Charles A. Tindley, Lucie E. Campbell Williams, Thomas A. Dorsey, William H. Brewster, Sr., Roberta Martin, and Kenneth Morris.
American Music
By eloquently and forcefully making a case for a spiritual core within African American gospel music, Reagon has paved the way for similar approaches to the investigation of appropriate genres in Western music.
Journal of American History
With its useful bibliography, discography, interviews, and essays, this collection explors the 'rough side of the mountain' that these important but overlooked composers have traversed and vividly evoked throughout this century
Journal Of American History
With its useful bibliography, discography, interviews, and essays, this collection explors the 'rough side of the mountain' that these important but overlooked composers have traversed and vividly evoked throughout this century
The Griot
With fascinating narratives, stories, and groundbreaking research, this momentous work is a landmark in the scholarship of gospel music.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A curator at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History and a noted gospel singer herself, Reagon presents a superb collection of essays--by academics who are also gospel performers or record producers--that focus on major figures in black gospel music: Charles A. Tindley, Lucie Campbell Williams, Thomas A. Dorsey, William H. Brewster Sr., Roberta Martin and Kenneth Morris. Highlights here are oral histories by Brewster and Morris, from interviews conducted by Reagon; a roundtable discussion by several former members of the Roberta Martin Singers; and Michael Harris's explication of Dorsey's life as a complex dialectic of the sacred and secular traditions of African-American culture. There is a no less profound tension between the messianic fervor of black Baptist and Pentecostal ritual practice, convincingly depicted in essays by Horace Clarence Boyer and Rev. Charles Walker, and an explicitly social gospel, as evidenced in Reagon's essay on Tindley. Finally, the dictates of the marketplace could not be avoided by even the most devoutly religious gospel performer, as Kenneth Morris, a music publisher and composer, reminds Reagon in an interview. Boyer's essays on each of the six composers are elegant combinations of biography and musical analysis, although some of the latter may be beyond the comprehension of non-musicians. Illustrations, bibliography and discography. (Feb.)
Library Journal
According to this volume, gospel is perhaps the sacred music phenomenon of this century. It has crossed over into the popular music spectrum and has contributed to a regard for African American music ``that drives mainstream popular culture worldwide.'' The lives and works of six ``pioneers'' are analyzed here by distinguished contributors, who include Thomas Andrew Dorsey, William Brewster Sr., Roberta Martin, Charles Albert Tindley, and Kenneth Morris. Many famous songs are reproduced, and the overview section is filled with excellent general information about the history and recording of the gospel sound. This intellectual presentation is recommended for collections serving musicians and educators. (Index not seen.)-- Ina M. Wise, Daley Community Coll. Lib., Chicago
School Library Journal
YA-- This wonderful volume on the evolution of African-American gospel music and its influence on worship and contemporary music has something for everyone. An overview and introductory chapter define components of the genre. Individual chapters on six greats who pioneered and developed the musical tradition provide information on their philosophy and attitudes. Analyses and 49 complete piano and vocal scores are included. Most delightful of all are the accounts resulting from interviews with the featured composers, family members, and performers that present a personalized, comfortable step into their experiences and thoughts. Although a hefty book that will undoubtedly challenge competent readers if read straight through, its organization, various components, and extensive index allow flexible use for a variety of interests.-- Jessica Lahr, Edison High School, Fairfax County, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560981671
  • Publisher: Smithsonian Institution Press
  • Publication date: 12/17/1992
  • Series: "Wade in the Water" Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 1.04 (d)

Meet the Author

Bernice Johnson Reagon is Distinguished Professor of History at American University. The author of many works, including Black People and Their Culture, she selected and annotated the landmark three-record album collection Voices of the Civil Rights Movement and was narrator and conceptual producer of "Wade in the Water: African American Sacred Music Traditions," a joint project of the Smithsonian Institution and National Public Radio. A 1989 recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship, Reagon is the founder and artistic director of the a cappella quintet Sweet Honey in the Rock.

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Table of Contents

Part 1 I. Overview Chapter 2 1. Pioneering African American Gospel Music Composers: A Smithsonian Institution Research Project Chapter 3 2. The Impact of Gospel Music on the Secular Music Industry Part 4 II. Charles Albert Tindley Chapter 5 3. Searching for Tindley Chapter 6 4. Charles Albert Tindley: Progenitor of African American Gospel Music Part 7 III. Lucie Eddie Campbell Williams Chapter 8 5. Lucie E. Campbell: Composer for the National Baptist Convention Chapter 9 6. Lucie E. Campbell: Her Nurturing and Expansion of Gospel Music in the National Baptist Convention, U.S.A. Inc. Chapter 10 7. Lucie E. Campbell Williams: A Cultural Biography Part 11 IV. Thomas Andrew Dorsey Chapter 12 8. "Take My Hand, Precious Lord, Lead Me On" Chapter 13 9. Conflict and Resolution in the Life of Thomas Andrew Dorsey Part 14 V. William Herbert Brewster, Sr. Chapter 15 10. William Herbert Brewster: Rememberings Chapter 16 11. William Herbert Brewster: The Eloquent Poet Chapter 17 12. "If I Fail, You Tell the World I Tried" Chapter 18 13. William Herbert Brewster: Pioneer of the Sacred Pageant Part 19 VI. Roberta Martin Chapter 20 14. Roberta Martin: Spirit of an Era Chapter 21 15. Roberta Martin: Innovator of Modern Gospel Music Chapter 22 16. Conversations: Roberta Martin Singers Roundtable Part 23 VII. Kenneth Morris Chapter 24 17. Kenneth Morris: Composer and Dean of Black Gospel Music Publishers Chapter 25 18. Kenneth Morris: "I'll Be a Servant for the Lord" Chapter 26 References Cited Chapter 27 Discography Chapter 28 Annotated Bibliography of African American Gospel Music Chapter 29 Contributors Chapter 30 Index

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