Music scholar engages audience with gospel music presentation

Ramsey taught a song to audience members during his presentation. Photo credit: Liesje Powers

By Isabella Maso | Reporter

This week, Baylor School of Music, Pruit Memorial Symposium and Baylor University Libraries are hosting music scholar Dr. Guthrie Ramsey as part of its ongoing Lyceum series.

Ramsey gave the first of two presentations Monday evening at Ebenezer Baptist Church, located across the street from the Baylor campus.

His presentation on Monday, titled “Y’all like that? Contemporary gospel music and the sacred-secular divide,” was interactive and engaging.

Ramsey started his presentation by dedicating the evening to journalism, public relations and new media professor Robert Darden for all of his hard work in regard to gospel music. Darden’s Black Gospel Music Restoration Project was recently selected to be featured in a new Smithsonian Museum exhibit.

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Ramsey taught a song to audience members during his presentation. Photo credit: Liesje Powers

“I was flabbergasted, and it choked me up,” Darden said. “A scholar of his stature and talent to say something like that – I’m as big a fan of him.”

Ramsey then went on to speak about the history of gospel music and about how the genre reached a crossroads in the 1960s. He then moved on to discuss the shift of gospel music to the entertainment world.

At one point of the presentation, Ramsey called up three singers to the stage and taught them, as well as the audience, the words to a gospel hymn. With Ramsey at the piano, he had the audience clapping and stomping to the song he taught them.

Waco graduate student Abigail Thompson was very impressed with Ramsey’s overall presentation.

“I thought it was a really great presentation from a musicology standpoint, but also he was really entertaining and I enjoyed it. The feel of the room was very engaged,” Thompson said.

After a final, emotional musical demonstration, Ramsey was able to sum up his entire presentation with a few heartfelt words.

“The significance of the music is you can hide in it, and you can express what words cannot,” Ramsey said.

Dr. Ramsey’s second presentation will be at 4 p.m. today in the Meadows Recital Hall in the McCrary Music Building.

For more information on Dr. Ramsey visit: