Musical Genres

A City Called Heaven: Chicago and the Birth of Gospel Music by Robert M. Marovich

By Robert M. Marovich

In A urban known as Heaven, gospel announcer and song historian Robert Marovich shines a mild at the humble origins of an impressive style and its integral bond to the town the place it came upon its voice: Chicago.
Marovich follows gospel song from early hymns and camp conferences during the nice Migration that introduced it to Chicago. In time, the track 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 kin and associates of earlier gospel pioneers--to recuperate many forgotten singers, musicians, songwriters, and leaders. He additionally examines how a scarcity of financial chance bred an entrepreneurial spirit that fueled gospel music's upward push to recognition and opened a gate to social mobility for a few its practitioners. As Marovich exhibits, gospel track expressed a longing for freedom from earthly pains, racial prejudice, and life's hardships. in spite of everything, it proved to be a legitimate too potent 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

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The women appealed to Bishop Mason to give Chicago another chance. They even had a potential pastor in mind: Mason’s loyal associate, Elder William Roberts. The prayer group was so persistent that it raised and sent Roberts seventeen dollars for train fare from Memphis. 17 On Christmas Day, 1916, forty-year-old Roberts arrived in Chicago with his young son, Isaiah, in tow to consider the women’s request. Years later, during an appearance on Isabel Joseph Johnson’s Rock of Ages television program, Brother Isaiah Roberts told viewers that when he pressed his young face to the train’s window screen, eager for his first eye-opening impression of the Promised Land of Chicago, he was sorely disappointed.

88 Church leaders and singers were recognizing that phonograph records could serve as a national altar call, spreading their message beyond the confines of the church walls. By 1926, records were a popular form of entertainment in black 42 Part One: Roots households.

21 Elder Eleazar Lenox and the Lenox Family Like Roberts, Elder Eleazar Lenox was one of many leaders in Chicago’s embryonic COGIC church community whose progeny would become important figures in gospel music. Lenox’s son James, grandsons Kelvin and Lamont, granddaughter Annette “Queenie,” and daughter-in-law Aldrea became internationally acclaimed gospel singers, musicians, songwriters, choir directors, and recording artists. Born January 23, 1902, in Yazoo, Mississippi, Eleazar Lenox grew up on his family’s farm in Terrell, Arkansas.

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