The Louisiana Gospel Tradition

Oct 10, 2013
Originally published on October 11, 2013 9:26 am

This Friday the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra will take on Louisiana’s gospel music history for the very first time.

Orchestra Music Director Tim Muffitt said preparing for the Louisiana Gospel Tradition concert has been a rewarding - though often challenging - experience. The long over-due performance will bring together many musical components and feature performances by area groups such as the Florida Boulevard Baptist Church Choir, Shiloh Baptist Church Choir and the Baton Rouge Symphony Chorus.

Muffitt said the program will walk the audience through an evolution of gospel music. He said it will begin with some of the roots of gospel music with a performance by the local spiritual choir, Heritage.

"Spirituals are at the foundation of what is today known as gospel music," said Muffitt.

There will also be a representation of Shape-Note Singing, an early form of singing spiritual music that is known to be particularly powerful; a familiar gospel tune made popular by the movie "Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou", and a Southern Gospel quartet.

The event will showcase traditional, contemporary and praise gospel as well.

Muffitt said Louisiana's remarkable culture fabric is what has allowed off of these genres of gospel music to be right at his fingertips.

"And so when it’s time to do a program like this we can find extraordinary music-making in every different sub-genre of what we call gospel music," he said. "And we have great classical music in Louisiana as well and so when it’s time to put this all together, we can make it happen."

Muffitt said many paths lay ahead of gospel's future because all of the many styles are still vibrant today.

"It’s not as if they’ve all congealed into one thread," said Muffitt. "And what I have observed from my vantage point is that the gospel music is melding with contemporary, popular music styles more and more."

He said that kind of cross-pollination between styles of music and has been going on for decades, and he thinks we'll continue to see gospel music stay current with the trends.

The Louisiana Gospel Tradition is Friday, Oct. 11, at the Baton Rouge River Center Theater for the Performing Arts at 7:30 pm.

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