It is usually emails that I receive from readers that spark the commentary that is sometimes featured on the blog. Today’s commentary is one such case where an email was received regarding my review of This Changes Everything by Cana’s Voice. The reader asked me what my definition of Southern Gospel was and why I considered the style presented on the album a bit far for a Southern Gospel listening audience.
I will first try to give readers my definition of Southern Gospel music. Everyone reading this would probably have something different that defines Southern Gospel music for them, but here is what it is to me.
- Harmony: While other musical genres use harmony, I firmly believe that harmony is what sets Southern Gospel music apart from most other genres of Christian music. The three and four (sometimes more) part harmony with male/female vocalists combine for an awesome listening experience. There are many times when experienced Southern Gospel artists will use complex harmonies that are rarely heard in other musical genres. That is why it is hard to take solo artists seriously in Southern Gospel music for the mere lack of vocal harmony.
- Meter: While not always the case, the majority of Southern Gospel music through its history has been written in either 3/4 or 4/4 time or what is known as triple (or quadruple) meter. Without getting too technical, meter and rhythm go hand in hand.
- Pronunciation: Again, while not always the case, most experienced Southern Gospel artists will emphasize pronunciation while conveying a lyric (and an artist with an accent or twang doesn’t automatically disqualify them from proper pronunciation).
- Verse/Chorus: This one may sound silly, but Southern Gospel music to me has always been identified by a verse(s) and chorus (that 99% of the time is the same after every verse). This pattern can definitely be seen in other musical genres, but not as easily identifiable as the verse/chorus structure in Southern Gospel music.
While I could clearly list other defining characteristics of Southern Gospel music, these four stand out to me from the lifetime I’ve spent listening to Southern Gospel music. Next week, I will conclude this commentary outlining the recent trend in Southern Gospel of unoriginal, boring music being provided to the Southern Gospel listening audience.
So, what major characteristics define Southern Gospel music for you?
*Video Credit (southernvoicespublis)