By Robert M. Marovich
Marovich follows gospel song from early hymns and camp conferences during the nice Migration that introduced it to Chicago. In time, the song grew into the sanctified soundtrack of the city's mainline black Protestant church buildings. as well as drawing on print media and ephemera, Marovich mines hours of interviews with approximately fifty artists, ministers, and historians--as good as discussions with family and neighbors of earlier gospel pioneers--to get better many forgotten singers, musicians, songwriters, and leaders. He additionally examines how an absence of monetary chance bred an entrepreneurial spirit that fueled gospel music's upward push to acceptance and opened a gate to social mobility for a few its practitioners. As Marovich exhibits, gospel song expressed a longing for freedom from earthly pains, racial prejudice, and life's hardships. finally, it proved to be a legitimate too robust and too joyous for even church partitions to hold.
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Additional resources for A City Called Heaven: Chicago and the Birth of Gospel Music
Organized in 1850, Olivet Baptist Church was considered “the largest single Protestant church in the world” by 1928 with 9,763 members. Its pastor, Rev. Lacey Kirk Williams, was a significant political force within the National Baptist Convention. Organized as prayer bands out of Olivet, Pilgrim Baptist Church and Ebenezer Baptist Church boasted the second and third largest congregations among African American churches in Chicago with 7,500 and 6,000 members respectively. Bethel AME, founded in 1862, was tied for third with 6,000 members.
While disagreements about church policies prompted the organization of the Pilgrim and Ebenezer prayer bands, the substance of the worship experience itself was often the factor leading migrant prayer bands to form. Some prayer bands received a tongue-lashing from bourgeois, middle-class individuals. As early as September 1921, the Defender chided that the exuberant sound of prayer 1. Got On My Traveling Shoes 23 bands in residential areas was inappropriate: “These religious enthusiasts do not seem to realize that residential neighborhoods are liable to have people living there who do not share with them in their demonstrative manifestations of religious devotion.
Mildred L. ’ Eighty-five saints started in the march, and as latecomers and well wishers joined in, the group had increased to one hundred thirty-one when they arrived at the church and were counted. That Sunday service was blessed. ”30 Thirteenth Street COGIC, nicknamed “the sanctified church of the West Side,” would host some of the earliest COGIC revivalists, including Elder Utah Smith, Arizona Dranes, and Mother Katie Bell Nubin and her daughter Rosetta Tharpe. Among the products of Pastor Favors’s church were Bishop Isaac and Mother Maggie Favors, whose son, Malachi Favors (1927—2004), was a jazz bassist who founded the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) in 1965 and performed with the avant-garde Art Ensemble of Chicago.
A City Called Heaven: Chicago and the Birth of Gospel Music by Robert M. Marovich