Books

The Gaithers and Southern Gospel: Homecoming in the Twenty-First Century – Ryan P. Harper

The Gaithers and Southern Gospel: Homecoming in the Twenty-First Century. By Ryan P. Harper. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2017. 326 pp. (printed casebinding). Index. ISBN 978-1-4968-1090-8. $65 By Bob Marovich Rarely have television programs or video franchises received the microscopically detailed analysis that ethnographer Ryan P. Harper gives the Gaither Homecomings in The Gaithers and Southern Gospel. Despite its title, The Gaithers and Southern Gospel is neither a history of Bill and Gloria Gaither nor of southern gospel, although the narrative references significant facts in the histories of both. Instead, it is an examination of how the popular ...

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Living the Life I Sing: Gospel Music from the Dorsey Era to the Millennium

Living the Life I Sing: Gospel Music from the Dorsey Era to the Millennium (First Edition) Alphonso Simpson Jr. and Thomas A. Dorsey, III, eds. Paperback; 180 pages, with illustrations (Cognella Academic Publishing) https://titles.cognella.com/living-the-life-i-sing-9781634875493.html By Bob Marovich Living the Life I Sing is a fascinating collection of essays from prominent scholars on the creation, development, and impact of African American gospel music. Although gospel’s acknowledged father, Thomas A. Dorsey, is the central figure of the book, he is not its sole concern.  The book covers a variety of facets of gospel music from its West African roots to today. A ...

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Waxing the Gospel: Mass Evangelism and the Phonograph, 1890-1900

Various Artists Waxing the Gospel: Mass Evangelism and the Phonograph, 1890-1900 Archeophone Records (release date: September 30, 2016) www.archeophone.com By Bob Marovich There is something quite thrilling about hearing voices singing and speaking from more than a century ago. Those crackly, trebly vowels and consonants, like faraway voices over an old telephone, preserved on cylinder and discs like insects in amber, are just as hauntingly fascinating today as they must have been rousing for those who listened to them in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Hearing the voices of historic figures on record brings them back to life. Richard Martin and ...

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Don Frost: Silk Suits and Raggedy Underwear

Don Frost Silk Suits and Raggedy Underwear NBA and NFL Players Publishing, Inc. (246 pages, illustrations) http://donfrostbook.com By Bob Marovich If books on gospel music remain woefully underrepresented in the pantheon of American music writing, the number of volumes chronicling the white Southern Gospel experience is smaller still. Not if Don Frost can help it. The founder and host of the popular Music City Gospel Showcase television program and convention, and member of the Frost Brothers Quartet, has released Silk Suits and Raggedy Underwear.  The book doubles as his memoir and a biography of the Frost Brothers Quartet. Organized in 1924, ...

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Only A Look – Ronald L. Greer (book)

Only A Look Ronald L. Greer Westbow Press (231 pages) www.rongreerbooks.com By Bob Marovich It seems odd, at least at first glance, that in the more than forty years since the death of Roberta Martin, one of the most important pioneers of modern gospel music, nobody has written a book about her. Let me clarify: Irene V. Jackson’s impressive dissertation had been for decades the only full-length treatment of Martin, but it is difficult to come by and not for sale.  We’ll Understand It Better By and By, edited by Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, dedicates an entire section to Martin, ...

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Hell in the Choirstand – Titus Pollard

Titus Pollard Hell in the Choirstand Self-published 287 pages; released April 2015 By Bob Marovich The clash between good and evil as played out on the battleground of music is a timeless theme. From Biblical days, when David played the harp to release the evil spirit from King Saul, to Charlie Daniels’s saga of the devil challenging young Johnny to a fiddle contest in Georgia, music has been depicted as having a supernatural ability to quash a foe. It’s a rare novel in which gospel choral singing plays a prominent role, but Titus Pollard’s self-published Hell in the Choirstand pits good versus evil on ...

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Funk Justice: 15 Fixes for Your Ministry Funks (Tami Rowbotham)

Funk Justice: 15 Fixes for Your Ministry Funks Tami Rowbotham Ministry Entrepreneur Press (2014) 251 pages Available from Amazon.com By Bob Marovich Confession time: I was once a burned out music minister. Years of organizing the music for a local church, Sunday after Sunday, had taken its toll. Music ministry had gone from being fun to so demanding I could no longer enjoy the worship experience. That seemed unfair, and I quit. I could have used a dose of Funk Justice. In her book, Funk Justice: 15 Fixes for Your Ministry Funks, former CCM singer Tami Rowbotham uses the legal ...

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Book Review: Nothing But Love in God’s Water

Nothing But Love in God’s Water: Volume 1: Black Sacred Music from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement Robert Darden Penn State University Press (224 pages) By Bob Marovich “A singing army is a winning army, and a singing labor movement cannot be defeated.” So proclaimed labor leader John L. Lewis, and as Baylor University associate professor Robert Darden argues in his new book, Nothing But Love in God’s Water, the statement is equally relevant if “army” is replaced with “people” and “labor” with “civil rights.” Darden, former gospel editor for Billboard, author of the well-respected gospel music ...

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Coming April 2015: A City Called Heaven: Chicago and the Birth of Gospel Music

Journal of Gospel Music Editor-in-Chief Bob Marovich has written the definitive history of gospel music from Chicago, the genre’s birthplace.  Available from the University of Illinois Press starting in April 2015. Read more here: UI Press | Robert Marovich | A City Called Heaven: Chicago and the Birth of Gospel Music.

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