Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Music of Music City -- Verse 5

Saturday afternoon, late, I got to participate in yet another kind of musical event that's easily associated with Nashville. And to which I've been fervently devoted for most of the past two decades. Gospel music.

Usually when I say "gospel music" I'm referring to Southern gospel. In this case it's the closely-akin black (African-American) gospel style. You see, I went to Eastside Church of Christ on Gallatin Road. A historically-black congregation, the sign out front had advertised that the "Winter Songfest" would start at four on the 21st. Due to the term "songfest" I went thinking it would be congregational singing, such as they have on the fourth Sunday evening at Hart Street, another historically-black Church of Christ on the other side of Trevecca Nazarene University from where I live.

Eastside Church of Christ was full of people. I even had a hard time finding a seat up on the choir loft above the front entrance. But once I did I had a pretty good view of the various groups and one or two individuals who got up on the stage at the back of the sanctuary to bless us with song. Yes, this songfest was more in the style of "all-day singings" I'd been to over the years, where either local semi-professional singing artists or traveling professional artists gather to present a joint concert of several hours. However, we the congregation were invited at times to join in the singing and praising our Lord. Keep in mind that the Church of Christ is non-instrumental. So the offerings were basically a cappella and the only non-vocal sounds are the clapping of hands, and at least on one live solo offering an accompaniment tape of harmonious background singers.

But do NOT think that the absence of instruments lessened the effect! Church of Christ brothers and sisters can sing some powerful a cappella, as I've long known thru various experiences of Churches of Christ and events in them. And brothers and sisters of African ethnic/racial heritage can surely SING the Lord's praise! And powerfully!

We had church there in Eastside that evening! I assure you of that!

The statement "we had church!" is one I picked up when I first became a dedicated fan of Southern gospel in the 1990s. And more than one song sung this evening is one I would label "Southern gospel". But again, dear reader, the two genres of Christian music, Southern and black (African-American) are closely related, arising in the Southern USA (former Confederate states) during it impoverishment under Reconstruction and its slow recovery from that sad era. The two genres share roots as well as developments.

To cut to the chase, I was blessed!

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