Voices and Vinyl concert places contemporary twist on classic black gospel music

Members of the Heavenly Voices Gospel Choir sing at the "Voices and Vinyl" concert Tuesday afternoon in Moody Allbritton Foyer. MJ Routh | Multimedia Journalist

By JP Graham | Reporter

The Baylor Libraries hosted the Heavenly Voices Gospel Choir for the third annual “Voices and Vinyl” concert Tuesday afternoon, performing versions of classic gospel music inspired by the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project at Baylor University.

The Heavenly Voices Gospel Choir performed versions of “Deliver Daniel” by Dexter Walker, “Don’t Cry” by Kirk Franklin, “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” by Thomas A. Dorsey and “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power” by Andrae Crouch, a crowd favorite from last year. The harmonization of the Heavenly Voices Gospel Choir created a contemporary feel to these original songs.

Journalism, public relations and new media professor Robert Darden began the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project 13 years ago when he wrote an editorial expressing the importance of preserving gospel music for future generations. Partnered with Baylor Libraries, Darden said he had no idea the project would grow to this magnitude.

“It’s the largest initiative in the world to identify, acquire, digitize, scan and catalog black gospel music vinyl from the golden age of gospel music,” Darden said. “We have a larger collection than the Library of Congress. We provide the gospel music for the international museum of African American history and culture in Washington DC.”

MJ Routh | Multimedia Journalist

Eric Ames, assistant director of marketing communications for Baylor University Libraries and ITS, emceed the event and said the purpose of the Voices and Vinyl Concert was to utilize the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project at Baylor and encourage students on campus to get involved.

Ames said many students don’t recognize the influence that America’s black gospel music has had on modern musicians; artists such as Kanye West, Lecrae and Moby all exhibit the influence of 60s and 70s gospel music in their music today.

Ames said the concert allows him to witness the reactions of students attending, including the evident joy the music invokes.

“The most exciting part is to see how the music affects everyone who attends the concert,” Ames said. “Whether you think you like black gospel music, or you’ve never heard a gospel song in your life, you’ll find yourself getting wrapped up in the message of hope, freedom and joy that comes with these students’ performance.”

Keller sophomore Keiaron Randle said she joined the Heavenly Voices Gospel Choir because she liked the idea of adding a more contemporary style to original gospel music.

“We get to rearrange different traditional gospel music to make it more contemporary,” Randle said. “But we also still get to focus on and listen to the original gospel music while we’re in rehearsal.”

MJ Routh | Multimedia Journalist

Sulphur Springs senior J.T. Grant said the Heavenly Voices Gospel Choir is an organization that presents an opportunity of worship to those that may have trouble getting to church on Sunday.

“If you have anything that you’re going through, and you don’t go to a church regularly on Sundays, you can always come here [Miller Chapel] Mondays at 7 p.m.,” Grant said. “Sit down and listen. You don’t have to participate with us. Just come here, sit down and listen and worship with us.”

The Heavenly Voices Gospel Choir can be contacted through their Facebook page and Twitter account, and will be performing at Gospel Fest on April 28. A location has yet to be decided.

MJ Routh | Multimedia Journalist