Music Makers Blog | What Gospel Means to Me by Gerard Henderson

If you recently watched the 2017 Grammy Awards or even watched video clips, you can understand why Chance the Rapper’s performance was widely talked about, personally it was my favorite performance of the night. He performed “How Great” and “All We Got” with gospel Legends Kirk Franklin and Tamela Mann. Accompanied by a choir it gave the full southern black church experience. One of the main reasons why I love Chance the Rapper is the gospel inspiration that you hear in his music. Gospel music influenced jazz/blues and jazz/blues has influenced countless genres of music.

This is going to be about the aesthetic of Gospel Music rather than the religious aspect of it. I love Gospel Music. I love the choir, I love the emotion, and I love the raw and soulful sound. The pain and joy that you hear with every note is breathtaking. I love old school gospel music like Mahalia Jackson. I love new school gospel, the kind that makes you feel good while you’re blasting it in the car, such as Kirk Franklin. I love it all. I remember my first encounter of Gospel Music was in the move “Diary of a Mad Black Woman”, “Father, Can You Hear Me”, still one of my favorite gospel songs to this day. I love how gospel music makes you feel every emotion possible. You can go from feeling hopeless to hopeful all in a 4-5-minute song. Some of the best voices and musicians that I’ve ever heard have came from gospel music backgroundssuch Whitney Houston for instance. She is considered The Voice, she started off singing in the church. Another reason why I love gospel music so much is through all adversity, hardships, and sufferings that black people have endured in this country, gospel music has been a release. Gospel music has its deep origins in slavery. It started off as negro spirituals that later turned into gospel music. I don’t believe people realize how much of an impact gospel music has on the black community, from the slavery to civil rights movement to today. Gospel music gave encouragement and reassurance to blacks all around the country during rough, unimaginable times. At my grandmother’s church in a rural Georgia town, they sing “We Shall Overcome”, a significant anthem in the civil rights movement, every Sunday morning. I asked my grandmother why do they sing every Sunday morning and she said “It’s how we communicate to one another, saying ‘You are my brother (or sister) keep pushing forward, it is almost over, I am right there with you.’” Gospel music has such a deeper meaning than most people realize, so yes, I love gospel music, I love gospel music, I love gospel music. I love the feeling you get, I love the soulful sound, I love the musicians and vocalists it produces. And I also love how it makes me feel connected to my ancestors who came before me so that I could have a better life. I love how it has influenced American music. Whether you believe in God or not, I think everyone can find an appreciation for what Gospel Music has done.

Music Makers Blog | Music, a community by Aubrey Pohl

     I'll do my best to sound as objective as possible, because I want people to build their own opinions based on my thoughts. That being said, I also am a very opinionated person so I might just throw objectivity out the window (glass shattering to the floor as objectivity crashes through it). I’ll just jump right in. Music, to a lot of people, is portrayed as a form of entertainment, something to enjoy when you feel like it. Sure that’s true, but to some people, it becomes a lot more than that. To those who truly invest time into listening, reading, researching, and going to live shows it moves past the point of entertainment and becomes a study, a religion, a political movement, or whatever it happens to mean to them. On an individual level people can be influenced in almost every aspect of their lives by the musicians they look up to. However, nothing compares to the joy and excitement I’ve seen when people are brought together because of music, and this is where the community begins to build. We can go on and on about individuality, but if we weren’t forming communities within the music we listen to then every show would only have one person in the crowd, right? Everyone could get something completely different from a song, or group, but at the end of the day they are still going to come together with the others who felt something to support what they believe in. I’ve stood in the crowd of a Pixies concert full of moshing dad’s, teenagers, and first time by standers alike, just to name one example. All of them shared an experience, and because of that, the community grew. I guess what I’m saying is to truly experience everything that music, live shows, songwriters, and bands have to offer, you have to invest yourself in the community that comes along with it. People change their lives based on the music that influences them, and they find a place in the world where they fit. I’m not even speaking in terms of specific genres or groups, I mean across the wide plane of music from the beginning to modern day and every genre in between. Communities are constantly being formed, as well as growing, bringing people together in their ideals, beliefs, and interests, and all of it has a strong base in music. This is what I believe we are trying to build here at Mississippi State with Music Makers. We don’t want to be an exclusive group, we want to help build the community that comes together for live music. Every student, every community member, every person who has a chance to come to our shows has the chance to be a part of that community, and to help it grow.