Youth Emerging Young Artists Shaping the History of Gospel Music

New Generation Talent Gathers in Oakland for Gospel Music Showcase.
( [email protected] ) May 20, 2004 08:44 AM EDT

Gospel music. When it is mentioned, it stirs up images and means several things – passionate praises, syncopated harmonies found in Protestant hymnals, or Southern Baptist African-American choirs. Despite these stereotypes, Gospel music’s terminology is always changing.

It took some efforts for Gospel music to be known to the world. Singers such as Mahalia Jackson and The Five Blind Boys of Alabama brought Gospel music out of the churches where they originated. Gospel music also became the spawning genre of Soul when artists such as Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin stepped onto their platforms.

Throughout the history of the Gospel, the genre still appears to retain its energy, optimism, and message. Even though today’s young performers a wide variety of different kinds of ‘Gospel’ music, now the genre ranging from Rock band grunge, ska, alternative, rap, hip-hop, etc. Gospel music has extended from its roots to out reach to mainstream music industry, such as Switchfoot’s ‘abandoned rock’ style and also the passionate worships of Kirk Franklin. The messages of the older sound in some extent resemble the new songs written today from a respected tradition and history.

This Thursday, May 20, 2004, the Gospel Hit-Breakers Independent Comedy Showcase and Mixer will display some of the young artists of modern Gospel music. The event is located at Simone's Jazz & Soul Cabaret in Oakland. Some of the hottest young artists gather at Jack London Square events performing everything from hip-hop to jazz.

Berkeley's Gospel artist, Sista Kee will make an appearance. The teen prodigy having grown up in the Gospel music environment, is also a sought-after acclaimed jazz pianist, bandleader and composer. Her time spent at the local Imani Ministries church led her to a calling to music ministry. Her style is a juxtaposition of several different genres, having jazz, hip-hop, and traditional gospel.

Sista Kee likes to have an eclectic source of style when it comes to making Gospel music, always keeping herself updated on jazz radio stations. “The Bay Area is tremendously rich in talent for this music," Sista Kee says.

Others, like Bryant Evans and Michael Gullant, are two teen gospel rappers comprising the Hayward-based group Men of Praise. Artists’ perspective on Gospel music is the vehicle to deliver the higher message that is clean, positive and deeply rooted from the gospel message. The dual artists have enjoyed performing in churches and celebrations from Los Angeles to Sacramento.

"You have to live holy to make holy music," says Evans -- these performers aren't dour or condescending.

Among the artists, the event will host J-Redd, a talented emcee Gospel comedian who will also host for Mary Mary sing at the Calvin Simmons Theatre in Oakland on May 29. J-Redd also takes his show to group homes and juvenile detention facilities as well as the large churches and concerts. The event will also host Eugene Cole, Tachina Danielle, Annointed Eastwood and Jamie Hawkins.