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Program: Gospel Roots of Rock and Soul

Airing at 6 p.m. every Sunday in February

From the mid-twentieth century on, gospel music not only thrived within a separate sphere as vital as the jazz, rock and rhythm and blues worlds; it also constantly intersected with the secular music industry, providing models that countless artists outside the church emulated. Gospel Roots of Rock and Soul explores these connections as a way of reinstituting gospel’s central role within the history of American popular music. It’s hosted by Grammy Award winning singer Cece Winans.

It consists of four one-hour segments, and begins with the history and foundation of black gospel from spirituals, and how those songs informed the music of the great gospel quartets. In examining how rock, soul and R&B grew from the roots of gospel, it highlights such highly influential artists as Sam Cooke, who transitioned from gospel to secular music; Sister Rosetta Tharpe and her early rock stylings; and Elvis Presley, who helped expose white audiences to gospel music. Examples of some of the most beloved contemporary pop music of the last 60 years from artists such as Aretha Franklin, Paul Simon, and Ray Charles illustrate gospel music’s influence. Gospel Roots of Rock and Soul also features exclusive live performances recorded by WXPN within the last year from gospel groups The Fairfield Four, The McCrary Sisters, and The Dixie Hummingbirds.

Gospel Roots Website (opens new tab)


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