The Encyclopedia of American Gospel Music is a comprehensive reference source covering all aspects of both African American and white gospel from history and performers to recording techniques and styles, as well as the influence of gospel on different musical genres and cultural trends. Now available in paperback, this work is a valuable reference for both scholars and the general reader.
Organized alphabetically to facilitate searching, this encyclopedia also contains many reference tools to aid the user such as bibliographic and references at the end of entries, a thorough and analytical index, and black-and-white illustrations.
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Dr. William K. McNeil was the folklorist at the Ozark folk Center in Mountain View, Arkansas. Dr. McNeil worked for the Smithsonian Institution and the Office of State History in Albany, NY. In 1995, he was elected to the Fellows of the American Folklore Society. He was the author of sixteen books and produced thirty-six recordings dealing with folk, popular, country, and gospel music. His Smithsonian Collection of Classic Blues was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1993.From Booklist:
With more than 60 contributors from universities and libraries as well as from gospel- and folk-music organizations, the Encyclopediaof American Gospel Music provides historic and biographical information for hundreds of artists who have shaped gospel music for more than 100 years. Gospel music is a genre that is difficult to pin down to a single style. In his introduction, editor McNeil states that gospel is often designated as any song of a religious nature; for scholars, however, it encompasses "songs reflecting the personal religious experience of people." In discussing the origin of gospel music, McNeil makes a point to "lay to rest" the opinion that gospel music grew out of camp-meeting spirituals and affirms that gospel was more influenced by marches and secular songs.
Artist entries, ranging from one or two paragraphs to more than a page in length, are arranged alphabetically and contain biographical information, birth and death dates, a select discography, see also references, and bibliographies (including print and online sources). Entries are well written, contain little jargon, and feature information about each artist's regional style and career, or each gospel group's personnel history. Contributors have attempted to include the most current information available by communicating directly with the artists or surviving family members, especially with regard to birth and death dates. In addition to the individual and group performers listed, there are also entries for prominent gospel radio stations, record companies, commonly used instruments such as the Banjo, and gospel subgenres like Bluegrass and Soul gospel.
Most importantly, this volume combines the histories and artist profiles of both black and white gospel music. It is one of few comprehensive, scholarly reference works to combine the two styles and is certainly the most up-to-date. The Gospel Music Encyclopedia (Sterling, 1979), for example, focuses almost entirely on white gospel music. The Encyclopedia of American Gospel Music is intended for scholars as well as general readers and is recommended for academic and public library collections. Steven York
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