Just in time for Black History Month, PBS commemorated the historical heritage of gospel music on February 9 with the debut of a Gospel live concert paying tribute to how the stirring sound influenced generations of Black music across a variety of genres.
The lineup showcased this fusion as well: Mali Music, LaTocha, Anthony Hamilton and The Ton3s, Lena Byrd Miles, Sheléa, John Legend, Tauren Wells, musical conductor Alonzo “Zo” Harris and Erica Campbell who co-hosted the event alongside Harvard scholar/documentarian Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Erica Campbell commenced the event with a traditional hymn, while Mali Music delivered a smooth version of Sam Cooke’s “He’s So Wonderful.” LaTocha followed with a reinterpretation of Xscape’s “Who Can I Run To,” and effortlessly, Lena Byrd Miles embodied the essence of the art through her delivery of gospel music, representing all five of The Clark Sisters with renditions of “Blessed and Highly Favored” and “You Brought The Sunshine.” Between Sheléa’s fermata and Tauren Wells’ take on Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground,” the event concluded on a high note, but not before enlightening the audience about how gospel music directly influenced artists like Anthony Hamilton, who developed his skills at Shiloh Baptist Church in Charlotte, and John Legend, whose foundation lies in the Pentecostal church where he learned to play the piano.
The PBS Gospel Live concert served as an introduction to a 4-hour documentary series centered around the impact of gospel music.
Establishing the connection between gospel music and the Black experience, GOSPEL takes viewers through decades of transformation during which the sound of gospel music evolved along with the musical preferences of the audience and pivotal cultural moments including the storytelling blues, the civil rights movement, the business of Black music, the rise of hip-hop, and more.
Discovering the impact Chicago and Detroit had on spiritual music and how the Martin and Morris Music Company unlocked an opportunity for commercial marketing as the most successful Black-owned music publisher of gospel music in America in the mid-1900s, GOSPEL delves into the growth of the genre as a spiritual art form around the world.
There’s much to absorb through the combination of visuals. Look up your local listing to catch a replay of Gospel LIVE! and the GOSPEL docu-series on PBS.
This article was contributed in collaboration with our family over at Elev8.com, launching in 2024. For more faith-centered and wellness news, follow @Elev8inspo on social media.