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Hadassah McGill Mrs. Thomas English 1103-010 14 April 2013

The Sound a Soul Makes in Praise I hit the snooze button three times to allow myself at least an extra thirty minutes of sleep because 6am is far too early for me and in my opinion, God knows Im grateful. After all, hes said to have created the moon and the night sky and when I see thos e two things I know he means for my mind, body and spirit to be at ease. GET. UP. If I cant sleep, then neither can you! The persistent shriek of my young brothers voice echoing outside my door for me to wake up puts a wrinkle on nose and forehead. How selfish! I think. I would let you sleep if you wanted to. But today is Sunday. I let out a very aggravated groan that signals that Im up and I slowly urge myself out of my soft, comfortable bed. I follow my normal regimen and stretch out my limbs slowly inhaling and exhaling, allocating the last few minutes of peacefulness I will seemingly get. I flip open my laptop and pick one of my Christian playlists designed especially for days like these; to wake me up. I pull up my Pandora playlist and click on one of my Contemporary Christian stations labeled by one of my favorite Caucasian artists, Francesca Battistelli. Francesca Battistelli, surely her voice can do the trick! I think to myself. I cant contain my excitement, with this catchy tune and beautiful voice I have to mimic it, so I immediately begin to sing loudly:

45 in a 35/ Sirens and fines while I'm running behind/ Whoa// This is the stuff that drives me crazy/ This is the stuff that's getting to me lately/ In the middle of my

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little mess/ I forget how big I'm blessed/ This is the stuff that gets under my skin/ But I gotta trust You know exactly what You're doing/ It might not be what I would choose/ But this is the stuff You use// To break me of impatience/ Conquer my frustrations/ I've got a new appreciation/ It's not the end of the world. Its no mistaking the next words that echo from outside my door because this tim e they belong to my grandmother: Turn that mess off and put on some music about the Lord or no music at all. My initial reaction is offense, considering Im smart enough to know what type of music to play. But what comes out sounds more like, b-but grandma this is music about the Lord. Not for me it aint. was her only response. I knew very well what she meant by this. Being of African American decent, she was referring to the form in which the music was being presented. She appreciates the style of gospel music that expresses feeling and evokes an emotion out of people; music that, according to her, only comes from the souls of black folk. For example, my grandmother is interested in the African American church choir form of gospel music. In other words, hand clapping and devil stomping music similar to that of Pastor John Prince Kee of the New Life Community Center and one of his famous songs that the pastor himself calls a country song called I Believe. Picture this: (Hands clapping, Feet stomping, drums beating, tambourines shaking and a choir ready to mimic the line right after the lead singer) Then the message:

I'll have my mansion now/ I believe, I believe, I believe/ Yeah, I'll have my mansion now/ I believe, I believe just what He said// I'll do all things through Christ/ I believe, I believe, I believe/ I'll do all things through Christ/ I believe, I believe just what He said// He shall supply my need/ I believe, I believe, I believe/ He shall supply my need/ I believe, I believe just what He said This soulful praise is demonstrative of the roots of the Black voice and the motions and meanings of the slave life. I often think, How is it that the same message can be sung,

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phrased, or expressed in many different ways but only be accepted in some forms by different people? Perhaps it is through this probe that has made me want to uncover the truth about why African-Americans praise differently. Growing up, I quickly learned that music is different and that it comes in many forms (which is what makes music so uniquely diverse and creative), but what is it about a particular genre of music that makes it acceptable to a particular group of people? Many would argue that ones cultural upbringing has a lot to do with the type of music that s/he may find relatable and equally acceptable. While this may be true, I would also argue that it is through exploration and having an open mind that allows for the discovery of something great. Reynolds Chapman, a Caucasian author of the article in the magazine Christianity Today entitled, Worship in Black and White, sought out to explore the difference in Black and White Christian praise songs. Chapman was curious of the songs he heard and went out to figure out why it sounded so different than what his Caucasian American race was accustomed to performing. He said that sometimes [he] would hear gospel music on the radio or television, and it struck [him] as a curiositythe kind of music to which black people worshiped but that remained mostly irrelevant to [him] and ultimately other cultures who were close-minded and stuck in their ways, as the saying goes. Much like Chapman, I too, wanted to find the story behind the songs and in order to find out the truth I chose to use various outlets. I researched the history of black people to find out the true story behind the songs, I conducted a nationwide survey, and I personally interviewed people about their preferences to find out the true reason why African-Americans worship differently and to determine the true reasons why certain forms are accepted by different people.

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There is an analysis of African American music according to McGraw-Hills Spotlight On Music segment entitled African American Spirituals in which the articles focus dates all the way back to the time of slavery. Along with being forced into slavery, blacks were forced into Christianity and required to attend church services held on the plantation. They quickly became acquainted with many Biblical stories in which they saw the correlation of the stories and their own sorrowed lives. The slaves began their spiritual services where they practiced the call-and-response form of singing worship. This mimicked the order and control that suppression had on the slaves. In other words, the call and response method mimicked the pain and sorrow met by the lives of many blacks. They would sing words or whole verses as a means to educate, communicate news or gossip, comfort mind and body, reprimand, tell a story, or give a coded signal [and many songs] were adapted as work songs. Singing together in rhythm helped laborers pass the time or maintain the speed and coordination of work movement when necessary. Some singers punctuated the music with clapping hands and stomping feet[,] since they were [forbidden] to play instruments. If one were to examine an African American church h/she would find some of these same methods still incorporated in spiritual songs; a choir that repeats the line of a song after the leader and stomps and claps to add rhythm and expression to the beat, and passionate singing used to thank God for all that he has done. In comparison to African-American gospel music, European American gospel is said to have influences from several music genres, particularly country and bluegrass (American Gospel). The influence is noted with the large usage of the guitar as the major instrument, plus many other distinctive features, whereas African Americans rely mostly on the sound of their limbs and voice and occasionally the beat of the drum or melodic tune of the piano.

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The article A House Divided: Christian Music in Black and White found in the Journal of Media and Religion, the author Omotayo O. Banjo, takes the risk of comparing and contrasting the racial discourse evident in gospel music, which is a predominantly African American genre and contemporary Christian music (CCM), which is a predominantly White American genre. He explores this case by stating that

Although each genre commits to a similar goal to share the Gospel, each has developed from distinct socio-cultural situations that help dene its message. Examining the sociocultural inuence of these two genres lays a foundation for understanding the differences in message content. Considering the background and upbringing of a particular group of people is supposed to help me understand more closely why people accept the specific forms of music they do. This is a good aspect to focus on considering that many believe that ones musical tastes are a product of their environment. What shocked me about this article was that Banjo asked some of the same questions that I have been asking throughout my research process. If the principles within the music are the same, then why is there such an overwhelming difference in racial representation? Further, how might these differences inuence the message content in the music? While ones socio-cultural background may be a factor, I would argue that it is through finding music that is relatable to ones life experiences that more closely define the type of music people will accept.

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"African American Spirituals- Spotlight on Music." McGraw-Hill- Spotlight on Music. Macmillan/ McGraw-Hill Education, n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2013.

Banjo, Omotayo O., and Kesha Morant Williams. "A House Divided? Christian Music In Black And White." Journal Of Media & Religion 10.3 (2011): 115-137. Academic Search Complete. Web. 27 Mar. 2013.

Chapman, Reynolds. "Christianity Today: Worship in Black and White." Christianity Today. N.p., 10 Mar. 2011. Web. 25 Mar. 2013.

""The Elite Sound"" Toluna Quick Surveys. Toluna Quick Surveys, 3 Apr. 2013. Web. 7 Apr. 2013.