Culture

Gospel

GOSPEL, the latest history series from Henry Louis Gates, Jr., digs deep into the origin story of Black spirituality through sermon and song.

The Gospel Train

53m

GOSPEL’s hour 1 takes the gospel train north to Chicago, where southern migrants Thomas A. Dorsey, Mahalia Jackson and Sister Rosetta Tharpe blended the melodic sounds and instrumentation of blues and jazz with lyrics about God’s goodness. Like the blues, gospel would become a commodity, but one built by Black-owned publishing companies like Martin and Morris and sustained by Black audiences.

Episodes

  • The Gospel Train: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    The Gospel Train

    S1 E1 - 53m

    GOSPEL’s hour 1 takes the gospel train north to Chicago, where southern migrants Thomas A. Dorsey, Mahalia Jackson and Sister Rosetta Tharpe blended the melodic sounds and instrumentation of blues and jazz with lyrics about God’s goodness. Like the blues, gospel would become a commodity, but one built by Black-owned publishing companies like Martin and Morris and sustained by Black audiences.

  • Gospel's Second Century: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Gospel's Second Century

    S1 E4 - 53m 1s

    GOSPEL’s hour 4 opens in the 1990s, when a new generation of music producers, record executives and artists embraced the secular rhythms of R&B and hip-hop to modernize the gospel sound. The launch of the Platinum Age of Gospel brought commercially successful songs about faith to millions in clubs, on cable TV and on urban radio, but drew criticism that gospel music had gone too far.

  • Take the Message Everywhere: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Take the Message Everywhere

    S1 E3 - 53m 1s

    GOSPEL’s hour 3 reveals how gospel was going mainstream and family dynasties, many raised in the Church of God in Christ, would dominate the charts. Meanwhile, other children of the church used their heavenly voice to influence soul music. As gospel artists took the message everywhere, Black pastors continued to distinguish their message through a prophetic voice and sound with sermonettes.

  • The Golden Age of Gospel: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    The Golden Age of Gospel

    S1 E2 - 53m 1s

    Starting in the 1940s, GOSPEL’s hour 2 explores the Golden Age of Gospel — the dramatic explosion of Black sacred music and the segregated highways of the American South — through the successful careers of Mahalia Jackson, Sam Cooke and Aretha Franklin. As the lines between the sacred and secular blur, gospel music becomes the powerful soundtrack of the freedom struggle.

Extras + Features

  • "Move on Up a Little Higher" Changes the Gospel Game: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    "Move on Up a Little Higher" Changes the Gospel Game

    S1 E2 - 4m 47s

    Until the 1940s, male quartets dominated gospel recordings. But, in 1947, Apollo Records, a small independent label decided to take a chance on Mahalia Jackson, an accomplished singer on the Chicago gospel scene. The success of "Move on Up a Little Higher" proved that Gospel music could be both spiritual and profitable.

  • Reverend C.L. Franklin Goes on the Record: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Reverend C.L. Franklin Goes on the Record

    S1 E2 - 1m 29s

    Seeking to grow his audience beyond New Bethel's walls, Rev. Franklin recorded more than 70 albums of sermons with the help of Joe Von Battle, a local record store owner in Detroit.

  • Dionne on Mahalia: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Dionne on Mahalia

    S1 E2 - 42s

    "She believed and trusted in god, and was not ashamed -- and would let you know that."

    Dionne Warwick weighs in on what was special about Mahalia Jackson's voice.

  • Thomas Dorsey's Legacy: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Thomas Dorsey's Legacy

    S1 E1 - 2m

    Thomas Dorsey co-founds the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses in 1933 -- soon the gospel choir would be one of the most important elements of the gospel tradition.

  • Extended Trailer: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Extended Trailer

    S1 - 3m 18s

    From the blues to hip hop, African Americans have been the driving force of sonic innovation for over a century. Musical styles come and go, but there's one sound that has been a constant source of strength, courage and wisdom from the pulpit to the choir lofts on any given Sunday. GOSPEL, the latest history series from Henry Louis Gates, Jr., digs deep into the origin story of Black spirituality

  • The Art of Black Preaching: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    The Art of Black Preaching

    S1 E1 - 48s

    Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. visits the Hampton University Ministers' Conference, where he speaks with Bishop Rudolph McKissick and Rev. Dr. William Curtis about the art of Black preaching.

  • Married Pastors Spread the Word to Brooklyn Millennials: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Married Pastors Spread the Word to Brooklyn Millennials

    S1 E4 - 2m 6s

    To reach a population of young black millennials motivated by digital activism, married pastors Gabby and Andrew Wilkes began their ministry in Brooklyn. They aptly titled it "The Double Love Experience."

  • Shirley Caesar's Homage to Shoutin' John: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Shirley Caesar's Homage to Shoutin' John

    S1 E3 - 1m 25s

    Shirley Caesar's 1988 album Live in Chicago features the song "Hold My Mule," which tells the story of Shoutin' John, a man whose praise won't be silenced.

Schedule

  • Image
    Gospel: Take the Message Everywhere: TVSS: Iconic

    Gospel

    Take the Message Everywhere

    Saturday
    Mar 2

    2 Hours 30 Minutes

    Gospel family dynasties dominate the charts; Black pastors bring songs about faith to millions, achieving platinum-selling success.
  • Image
    Gospel: The Gospel Train: TVSS: Iconic

    Gospel

    The Gospel Train

    Saturday
    Mar 2

    2 Hours 30 Minutes

    Starting in the 1940s, Southern migrants fuse blues and jazz sounds, bringing Black religious music into the mainstream.
  • Image
    Gospel: Take the Message Everywhere: TVSS: Iconic

    Gospel

    Take the Message Everywhere

    Sunday
    Mar 3

    2 Hours 30 Minutes

    Gospel family dynasties dominate the charts; Black pastors bring songs about faith to millions, achieving platinum-selling success.
  • Image
    Gospel: TVSS: Banner-L1

    Gospel

    Golden Age of Gospel

    Tuesday
    Mar 5

    2 Hours 30 Minutes

    Southern migrants fuse blues and jazz sounds, bringing Black religious music into the mainstream.

WETA Passport

Stream tens of thousands of hours of your PBS and local favorites with WETA Passport whenever and wherever you want. Catch up on a single episode or binge-watch full seasons before they air on TV.