People Get Ready!: A New History of Black Gospel Music

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People Get Ready!: A New History of Gospel Music is a passionate, celebratory, and carefully researched chronology of one of America's greatest treasures. From Africa through the spirituals, from minstrel music through jubilee, and from traditional to contemporary gospel, People Get Ready! shows the links between styles, social patterns, and artists. The emphasis is on the stories behind the songs and musicians. From the nameless slaves of Colonial America to Donnie McClurkin, Yolanda Adams, and Kirk Franklin, People Get Ready! provides, for the first time, an accessible overview of this musical genre. In addition to the more familiar stories of Thomas A. Dorsey and Mahalia Jackson, the book offers intriguing new insights into the often forgotten era between the Civil War and the rise of jubilee—that most intriguing blend of minstrel music, barbershop harmonies, and the spiritual. Also chronicled are the connections between some of gospel's precursors (Blind Willie Johnson, Arizona Dranes, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe) and modern gospel stars, including Andrae Crouch and Clara Ward. People Get Ready! knits together a number of narratives, and combines history, musicology and spirituality into a coherent whole, stitched together by the stories of dozens of famous and forgotten musical geniuses.<br/><br/>FROM THE INTRODUCTION<br/>"Among the richest of the lavish gifts Africa has given to the world is rhythm. The beat. The sound of wood on wood, hand on hand. That indefinable pulse that sets blood to racing and toes to tapping. It is rhythm that drives the great American musical exports, the spiritual (and, by extension, gospel), the blues, jazz and rock ‘n' roll. But first you must have the spirituals—religion with rhythm.<br/>In this book, I will show the evolution of a musical style that only occasionally slows down its evolution long enough to be classified before it evolves yet again. In historical terms, spirituals emerged from African rhythm, work-songs, and field hollers in a remarkably short time—years, perhaps days—after the first African slaves landed on American shores. From the spirituals sprang not just their spiritual heir jubilee, but jazz and blues. And gospel music in its modern understanding morphed from the spirituals, the blues, jubilee and—of course—African rhythm.<br/>What today's gospel music is and what it is becoming is part of the continuing evolution of African American music. Religion with rhythm.">

Product Details

  • Paperback: 440 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic (October 5, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826417523
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826417527
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds

Customer Reviews

I think it’s useful as a first introduction to the theme

 on September 14, 2014
By Amarcadia
Even this book is not exactly what I expected in terms of academic study, I think it’s useful as a first introduction to the theme.

Four Stars

 on July 19, 2015
By Michael Williams
Really good treatment of. The subject.

People Get Ready!: A New History of Black Gospel Music

 on February 12, 2010
By Sondra Faul
The book arrived in perfect condition. Thanks for helping me reach my educational goals.

Gospel Music A Message _People Get Ready!! Passeh Passeh!!

 on March 29, 2011
By H
I shall need to review the reviews. But let us write. Today it is a book I should still much like to have ‘on the book planks,’ though the planks are no longer there. To help other candidate buyers some quotes from pages in the book:

People Get Ready for this book!

9 people found this helpful.
 on November 26, 2005
By Alvin Speegle Jr.
“To truly understand American music, you must first attempt to understand the spirituals and gospel music,” says former gospel music editor of Billboard magazine and author Robert Darden. “And it begins where it all began-Africa, a thousand years ago.”

Amazing Book

11 people found this helpful.
 on March 6, 2005
By Robert L. Gersztyn
This is a reprint of a review Published in the December 19 issue of Blueswax, the worlds biggest blues publication at […] It is reprinted with permission.

Music Lovers and History Buffs–Don’t Miss This!

5 people found this helpful.
 on February 6, 2005
By L. Calhoun
The words sing off the page in People Get Ready. As an avid music lover, I knew jazz, rock, R&B, hymns, and black church music had some “hazy” connectivity. I felt it along the bones, but never appreciated the full story, which Darden unleashes with style and enthusiasm. Like a native guide in uncharted terrain, he moves from slave songs to post-Civil War music and onward to today, mixing interviews, research and reportage into a harmonic worldview of blues, jazz, jubilee, gospel and spiritual music. This is the kind of book a history buff and a music lover can enjoy equally. If you love music, it helps you find more music you love and understand your favorites more fully. If you love history, it helps put the modern musical scene into context as business, art, and spiritual catharsis.

Infectious in its love for the music and its sociocultural context

3 people found this helpful.
 on June 3, 2008
By D. Corl
This book was my entree into the study of African-American music. I loved it when I first read it, carried along by Darden’s obvious love of the subject, though I was not able to vouch for the level of his scholarship. Now, 8 months later, having read Cone, Samuel Floyd, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Christopher Small, Raboteau, Eileen Southern, Dana Epstein, Higginson, Elijah Wald and others, and then returning to this book, I find that Darden has indeed done his homework and synthesized a great deal of scholarship. I do agree that Darden is at his best up through the so-called “Golden Age of Gospel”, and that the last chapters do not exude the same passion as one finds in Anthony Heilbut’s work. Still, if one takes “Gospel music” to encompass slave songs, ring shouts, Jubilee songs as well as Tindley, Dorsey, Martin, Rosetta Tharpe, Mahalia and James Cleveland, then this book should be of interest. Darden’s passion for the music is infectious.

Gospel Desegregation

13 people found this helpful.
 on June 8, 2005
By maroon
People Get Ready! is an excellent read for anyone interested in the history of Christian music in the U.S. Darden takes time to explore how primary sources support or refute several competing theories about who influenced whom in the evolution of gospel music. He does a fascinating analysis of how frontier revivals and clandestine religious services held by slaves contributed to the integration of English lyrics with African music. He humbly approaches music history with passion for his subject, respect for his sources, and documented gratitude for the many archivists and researchers in Africa and North America who have laid the groundwork for this fascinating book. Darden shows that gospel music is the bridge linking the histories of Africa and North America.

Definitive History on Gospel

12 people found this helpful.
 on May 15, 2005
By M. Buisman
As a fan of Sam Cooke I started to listen to his earlier gospel music as a member of the Soul Stirrers and was very impressed. In classes and through reading more the story of spirituals and gospel became a great interest, though sometimes fragmented or too short.

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