Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Gospel Music Then & Now: Has its purpose changed?

Background: I spent a few hours visiting with my Pooh’s mom this past Sunday. We watched Sunday’s Best, laughed, joked but overall, had a spiritual discussion concerning gospel music.

Here’s a summary of the topics we discussed:
1. Should a non-black contestant be able to win Sunday’s Best?
2. Does color matter when it comes to gospel music?
3. What is the target audience of contemporary vs. traditional gospel music?
4. Does music add or take away from the overall worship experience?

Now of course we joked and laughed about how Mrs. Andrea was going to despite her being Caucasian. Ms. Lynn said: “Well, we go Obama – Andrea gon’ take Sunday’s Best.” Not joking because it’s impossible tho – in fact, we both VOTED for Andrea for the following reasons:

1. She has an anointing in her spirit that you can’t help but embrace when she sings.
2. Why does color matter if God is love & does not discriminate?
3. Gospel music is supposed to “get you through” – she has such a sweet voice that is not only skillful, but allows you to fully intercept her praise
4. The other girl, my apologies as I do not know her name, seemed more Neo-Soul which is cool but neither one of us felt like she was singing to the Lord; simply performing a song.
5. When we close our eyes and listen to each woman’s voice – there’s anointing in one & the urge to get up and dance in the other. Both gifted, but we value anointing over skill/flavor.

I personally feel that above all, soloist and other music ministries have ONE PURPOSE: To usher in the Holy Spirit by inviting the congregation into your personal praise. What does that mean? That means if I’m singing a solo, the congregation should NOT be distracted by me: not my outfit, my “runs” or my attention to making sure I hit EVERY note right.

*Note: At times your voice can be a distraction if:
1). Your voice fails (note goes flat or off-rhythm)
2). You are a true background singer and not soloist (can hold a note but need voice lessons)
3). You add so much complexity to the melody of a song that even old classics become foreign & we lose sight of what the lyrics truly mean (too many runs, not enough praise)

We discussed how gospel music has transformed over the years. Ms. Lynn felt that gospel just “ain’t what it used to be” – but I disagreed. See, I grew up in the South (straight Baptist preaching, teaching & sanging). However, my worship did not become intimate until I became an adult, life happened & I chose to stop running from God. So I’m familiar with the greats like John P Kee, Milton Brunson, Richard Smallwood, Daryl Coley, Shirley Caesar, Tremaine Hawkins and such.

On the other hand, my friend/bro Gary Stallings who is more of a contemporary gospel music buff explained to me why gospel music HAD to change. It has been and will always be a time of praise and glorification of the Lord – BUT now that the younger generation is full of zeal, rebellion & off-the-chain alternatives to Christ gospel music has to ATTRACT, ENTERTAIN & TEACH simultaneously. It has to have a dope beat, youthful & be relevant to my present/past circumstance. So if you go into Mardel’s or any Christian music store you will see the gothic section, southern Baptist section & a plethora of other genres WITHIN the Christian Contemporary Music section. Gospel music has GOT to take the brilliant & innovative minds of today’s youth, teach them Christian values & empower them to share the gospel.

So what does this mean?

The next time you see a church choir sing a remix to a Hot 8 @ 8 song, a mime with Kirk Franklin beats, a Christian gospel rap concert EMBRACE the purpose – the target audience needs to be the youth because in 15-20 years, they will be running the country. It’s so important to mentor our youth (not make a mini-me) and give them every opportunity to excel, make change & liberate the spiritually-fallen.

Discipleship is our CALLING – have you enlisted or are you stuck in the mentality that you are ONLY responsible for your own ticket to heaven?

I leave you with these scriptures:

Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Romans 12
A Living Sacrifice
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Humble Service in the Body of Christ
3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.


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