Black Music Month!
A look back at three of our features on Black Music makers whose work shook things up.
I hope this message finds you all well in the midst of this extremely heated-up summer.
The first thing I need to say is that last month marked the one year anniversary of God’s Music Is My Life! I’ve been so absorbed in multiple projects that it only dawned on me when we crossed into June.
Our subscriber base has grown by leaps and bounds since we first started and that’s all because of you! Thank you for sharing my articles with your circle of friends both privately and on the various social media platforms that you utilize. I’m so very happy that you’re enjoying the work.
Since there are so many new subscribers, I want to take the opportunity to highlight, in honor of Black Music Month, three features from the beginning of the newsletter that newer subscribers may not have seen. These features highlight the contributions of Black music makers who have each dared to defy both religious and cultural norms to create music that speaks their truth. Just click the article titles to read more!
Tramaine Hawkins—New Time Religion: The Holy Ghost Falls Down In the Club
In 1985, Tramaine Hawkins shook the church world with “Fall Down (Spirit of Love),” a dance-oriented track with a gospel message. When it became a smash hit in clubs and non-gospel radio, she was vilified by church leadership. I spoke with the musicians and producers who worked with her on this time to learn more about this phase of Tramaine’s career and what we can learn from her experience.
Johnny Whittaker & the Twenty-First Century Singers—”With Him, Everybody Could Sing”
Nashville is often overlooked in conversations about the evolution of contemporary gospel. Johnny Whittaker & the Twenty-First Century Singers, however, were innovators in the city who, as background vocalists, helped integrate country music sessions and, with their own recordings, colored outside of the lines.
3. Donna McElroy: “Her Way: Donna McElroy’s Vision of a Bigger World”
Donna McElroy came into Nashville’s world of session singing in the late 70’s as the “next” generation of sorts, coming behind Johnny Whittaker & the Twenty-First Century Singers. She also broke ground in country music and contemporary Christian music as a background vocalist. When the opportunity emerged for her to make a solo album for Warner Brothers, she threw caution to the wind and wrote about life from her positionality. McElroy says the work was “evidently too meaty…They wanted a little more fat. I had too much gristle.”