Worship and Music - Ethnomusicology


Master of Arts (MA)


Katherine Morehouse


Gospel Music, The Dixie Hummingbirds, The Fairfield Four, The Golden Gate Quartet, The Soul Stirrers, The Swan Silvertones


African American Studies | Christianity | Ethnomusicology | Music


The purpose of this work is to identify features of southern black gospel music, and to highlight what makes the music unique. One goal is to present information about black gospel music and distinguishing the different definitions of gospel through various ages of gospel music. A historical accounting for the gospel music is necessary, to distinguish how the different definitions of gospel are from other forms of gospel music during different ages of gospel. The distinctions are important for understanding gospel music and the `Southern' gospel music distinction. The quartet sound was the most popular form of music during the Golden Age of Gospel, a period in which there was significant growth of public consumption of Black gospel music, which was an explosion of black gospel culture, hence the term `gospel boom.' The gospel boom period was from 1940 to 1960, right after the Great Depression, a period that also included World War II, and right before the Civil Rights Movement became a nationwide movement. This work will evaluate the quartet sound during the 1940's, 50's, and 60's, which will provide a different definition for gospel music during that era. Using five black southern gospel quartets--The Dixie Hummingbirds, The Fairfield Four, The Golden Gate Quartet, The Soul Stirrers, and The Swan Silvertones--to define what southern black gospel music is, its components, and to identify important cultural elements of the music.