MUSIC Gospel
 
  How does Gospel music inspire hope and connect multiple generations?
 
     


Student project headline with a small image on the right...

Research compiled by Dwyan W., Alondra P., Matthew R., Destanee B., Nyapuot J., and Jared P.

 

EXAMPLE:  Intro lead in text...The church has been very important to the African-American community. In North Omaha, the church has been a source of spiritual motivation by providing Sunday morning services, Bible study, and Vacation Bible School. Churches also serve the community by feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, providing college scholarships and job training services, serving in the Civil Rights Movement, and a variety of other services. When looking through African-American history in North Omaha, the church can be found at the center of all other aspects.

Published on August 5, 2017

Students created this documentary as part of the OPS Making Invisible Histories Visible initiative.

Subhead

SUBHEAD EXAMPLE: Intro lead in text...The church has been very important to the African-American community. In North Omaha, the church has been a source of spiritual motivation by providing Sunday morning services, Bible study, and Vacation Bible School.
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Caption text description for the video North Omaha has a long, complex history of Civil Rights that remains largely unnoticed.

Subhead

SUBHEAD EXAMPLE: Intro lead in text...The church has been very important to the African-American community. In North Omaha, the church has been a source of spiritual motivation by providing Sunday morning services, Bible study, and Vacation Bible School.
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Subhead

SUBHEAD EXAMPLE: Intro lead in text...The church has been very important to the African-American community. In North Omaha, the church has been a source of spiritual motivation by providing Sunday morning services, Bible study, and Vacation Bible School.

Additional Information

North Omaha is often said to have “a church on every corner”. Although an exaggeration, these various churches have played an important role for the African American community of North Omaha for decades. Gospel music has evolved over time into a staple of African American communities across North Omaha, the United States, and the world.

Originating through the forced blend of African and European musical traditions during the era of slavery, gospel music has evolved significantly but has never lost its meaning. With strong roots in African spirituals and work songs, gospel music carries the message of perseverance and strength. African Americans used spirituals during slavery and the Jim Crow era to maintain hope in a time of oppression. During the early 20th century, sacred spirituals began to blend with secular music of the time. Thomas A. Dorsey brought blues, jazz, and sacred hymns together to create what we now know of as traditional gospel music. Over the years, gospel music has expanded into other genres of pop culture, such as hip-hop and rap.

Gospel music was first brought to Omaha due to the Great Migration of African Americans north during the early and mid-nineteen-hundreds. The increase in the African American population brought about the creation of multiple African American churches in North Omaha. Salem Baptist Church led by Reverend J.C. Wade was the first church in Omaha to wholeheartedly embrace gospel music. The Salem Baptist Choir went on to produce a Grammy-nominated track, “I Don’t Feel No Ways Tired”, with James Cleveland. Because of the success gospel had at Salem Baptist, other congregations began to accept this more modern form of worship music. Today, gospel music is still thriving in the congregations of Salem Baptist, Zion Baptist, Pilgrim Baptist, Faith Temple Church of God in Christ, and countless more North Omaha churches.

Despite the stereotypes and negativity associated with North Omaha, gospel music continues to unite the community with positivity and love. Gospel can be interpreted differently by each individual, and it has the power to affect each one of us in a unique way. For many residents of North Omaha and for many church goers, gospel serves not only as a way to worship God but also as a way to express themselves and cope with their daily struggles. Gospel music will continue to adapt with the times in the future just as it has in the past, and it will continue to remain as a stronghold for the North Omaha community.
For more information see:
Ashbey, S. (2017, July 18). Pilgrim Baptist Church Choir Member.

Boyer, H. C. (1978). Gospel Music. Sage Journals, 64(9), 34-43.

Cattau, D. (n.d.). Omaha Choir Hits Gospel Height. Omaha World-Herald.

Dryver, M. (2017, July 14). Historian and Music Educator.

Jack, T. (2000, 7 1). The Omaha Gospel Complex in Historical Perspective. Great Plains Quarterly.

Matthews, D. (2017, July 18). Zion Baptist Church Choir Director.

Williams, W. M. (2017, July 17). Soul Seekers Quartet Member.

Williams-Jones, P. (1975). Afro-American Gospel Music: A Crystallization of the Black Aesthetic. Ethnomusicology, 19, 373-385.

Authors:

The students who worked on the gospel project will attend high school at North High, Bryan High and South High this fall.

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Lesson Plan

Students will learn how gospel music became popular in North Omaha and understand its community impact by comparing the story of gospel music in North Omaha to the story of African Americans during the 1920s.

Download Lesson Plan

Student Reflections

I use to think gospel music was just church music. Now I know that it is also people’s voices and it is a way for people to stand as one.
- Alondra P.

I thought this program was going to be long and boring but actually it was very fun and we were so busy doing fun things that the 7hrs felt like 2hrs.
- Dywan W.

This program has changed my thinking and has helped me understand more about North Omaha. This is best thing I have ever done in a summer program!
- Matthew R.

I used to think that North Omaha  had a lot of gang activity and violence but I now know that North Omaha is filled with gospel music and different cultures.
- Jared P.

I’ve learned to not judge music, and to actually take time to listen to a genre.  I try to understand how it might be involved in a person’s life and how it might affect them.
- Destanee B.