Gospel music has been an important part of America’s backbone for as far back as one could go. Even so, up until recently, one couldn’t get a bachelor’s degree in gospel performance until very recently, when Nyack College in New York became the first school to offer it as a major.
Some would argue that gospel is part of a select group of musical genres that shouldn’t be studied. It’s improvisational nature and the common ideal that talent isn’t half as important as commitment lead some to believe that taking an analytical approach could tarnish the purity of the music.
“Gospel music has not really been looked at as something you can study, a skill that you can learn,” Willana Mack, who’s heading Nyack’s program, told the Washington Post. “But it’s an overall cultural problem that we don’t start requiring that our gospel artists be more versed in music — in the music language, in the music culture, in reading music, in understanding music theory.”
Mack brings up a very interesting point of view. Because of it’s faith-based use, many forget that gospel music can be just as much of a cultural experience as it is a religious one. There are many people who have a complicated relationship with faith – myself included – who still appreciate the beauty and inspiring nature of gospel.
Given that gospel music is the root of much of today’s modern music, it’s only fair that we analyze it to better understand music as a whole. It could even lead to a transformation of the music for the better.
Gospel music has been heard around the world and through the ages in some of history’s most important moments. While Nyack College’s Manhattan campus only has around 1,000 students, they all come from various backgrounds, according to The Washington Post, which shows the universal appeal it has.
While there are other programs that study gospel in the country, Nyack stands as the only one to currently offer an opportunity to study the performance of it. So if you know anyone that’d like to prove that gospel music more than a weekly hobby, signs are pointing to a future that will further embrace and explore it.
Photo Credit: Wiki Commons