As Christianity became prominent and the suffering of the race grew worse under the pressure of slavery, a style of music then known as the “negro spiritual” was born. These songs formed from the work song familiar on plantations—and which originated in African culture—but focused on spirituality and escaping from the bonds of slavery. This style profoundly influenced gospel music and transformed it into both a celebratory and mournful form. The Influence of Revivals Though gospel music arguably existed long before being defined, the first published use of the term was in 1874. In this year, Philip Bliss released a book called Gospel Songs: A Choice Collection of Hymns and Tunes . The songs collected here were designed to be sung in church and were a break with traditional church hymns, which were often hard for many amateur singers to perform. The release of this book was concurrent with the rise of revival culture throughout the nation, particularly in the South. Revivals weren’t uncommon in the country before this time
Many offshoots of gospel music exist, many of which take on elements of other genres. For example, gospel blues integrates blues-based instrumentation into gospel music to celebrate religious dedication. Popular performers influenced many religious and secular performers.
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