Black slaves and plantation owners also gave the South what became GOSPEL with its congregational songs, ring shouts, quartets, sacred harp choirs, sanctified groups and even work songs.

White GOSPEL really got its beginning in pre-Civil War camp meetings, sacred harp singing and revival music. With the formation of the Ruebush-Kieffer Publishing Company came James Vaughn, who started the South’s first home-based record company. After World War II, the Grand Ole Opry began to feature gospel quartets like:

The Oakridge Quartet

The Blackwood Brothers

The Statesmen

The Jordanaires (who would become the background singers for Elvis Presley)

The Happy Goodman Family

Modern White GOSPEL performers include:

Amy Grant

George Beverley Shea

Dallas Holmes

Jars of Clay

Anthony Burger


Faith Hill

Actually Black GOSPEL is a relatively recent music genre beginning in the early 20th century. Thomas A Dorsey is regarded as the Father of Black GOSPEL music. Dorsey worked with GOSPEL greats like Mahalia Jackson and Sallie Martin.

In 1945 we saw the beginning of tours by:

The Spirit of Memphis

The Soul Stirrers

The Blue Jay Singers

Modern day performers include Al Green and Little Richard.

Are you aware that actually RAP got its start in LM instead of LA? Yes black slaves would “rap” across the lower Mississippi (LM) cotton fields using coded gospel songs to let each other know where the Underground Railroad was leaving from that night to take them hopefully to freedom in the North USA! For instance, when they sang about “crossing the River Jordan” they were referring to that night’s location to meet.


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