The Documentary2016022420160228 (WS)
20160227 (WS)
The journey of gospel music from the church to the charts

The journey of gospel music from the church to the charts

Gospel's uplifting and rejoicing sound is world famous, a multi million-dollar music genre that in many ways has ended up being the beating heart of American popular music. But can gospel be gospel if it entertains and makes money as well as praises the Lord? Financial educator Alvin Hall explores how this American religious music genre has been affected by commercialisation.

In this first episode Alvin examines gospel's journey from the church to the charts through the music of Thomas Dorsey, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Mahalia Jackson and Sam Cooke. Now considered some of gospel's greatest artists, these early singers all met with strong criticism from the church as they took their songs from the sacred world into the secular. Alvin also reveals how other gospel performers in the first half of the 20th Century struggled fulfilling their religious obligations whilst battling with the temptations of life on the road.

(Photo: The NFL Players Choir performs at the 16th Annual Super Bowl Gospel Celebration. Credit: Marcus Ingram/Getty Images)

The Documentary20160302In this concluding part, Alvin Hall explains how gospel became a global force in popular music. He reveals how Aretha Franklin’s pop success introduced the gospel world to an international audience. He looks at the rise of the gospel choir in the 1970s and 80s and discovers how this religious music increasingly became a money-making industry. He also meets up with leading gospel stars Kirk Franklin and Donnie McClurkin questioning whether they think today’s gospel stars have been affected by money and celebrity.

(Photo: Aretha Franklin circa 1970)

Financial educator Alvin Hall examines gospel music and its commercialisation