Just been asked to play a couple of gigs with a gospel band. It’s not my favourite music, but none of us who appreciate the greatness of the music that has come out the USA in the past century can deny that the music of the church has had a great influence on blues, jazz and the r&b pop we hear on the radio today.
The artists I’ve grown up listening to who definitely put gospel into their music are Prince, D’Angelo and I think my earliest memory of a gospel style tune on the radio – good old Leo Sayer – “When I need you” … I guess you can just put that swing beat in your brain and then see which songs fit!
Two songs that spring to mind by Prince that give out a gospel vibe are Until the End of Time (Sign ‘O’ the Times, 1987) and the Morning Papers (Symbol album, 1992). On the former song, the harmony he builds towards the end really give that church feel, and of course he does his trademark falsettos as the soloist on top, trilling, showing off!
I guess that’s the irony with the gospel style that’s been borrowed in funk (let’s not forget James Brown!), soul and blues. You’ve got the allegiance to God, the total surrender etc in Gospel, and contrasted in the modern styles you’ve got the focus on sex… “I need you… I REALLY need you!!
It’s also interesting how many British bands over the years have given their song a boost with a gospel choir or at least a deep soul-voiced singer in the background… often with lead singers who wouldn’t be able to cope singing without a microphone!