Let’s Subscribe

Familial Gospel Music and Amateur Culture II

Familial Gospel Music and Amateur Culture II

Amateur Culture and Family Gospel Music II

As we discuss in first part, family is learning center for us and it provides the sustainability of culture. In the article, we will mention about family and gospel music in perspective of amateur culture. The family had leading role for gospel music to sustained for 20th century. Moreover, it is a great example of family music at the pre-alienation period of music. We ground on the book of Singing the Glory Down: Amateur Gospel Music in South Central Kentucky, while considering on Gospel music in Southern Kentucky. The relationship between music and family as backbone of Southern Kentucky Gospel music can easily be seen. Because families have protected the values of gospel music tradition.

Kentucky Gospel Music in Amateur Culture

“We were just a family that went around singing.”

Those words by Junior Selvedge are meaningful for members of family ensembles in south central Kentucky. If all kinship ensembles are taken into consideration, more than 40 percent of all singing groups were familial in their basic composition. Singing families have long played a prominent role for the gospel music, with valuable contributions of the Chuck Wagon Gang, the Blackwood Brothers, the Speer Family, and the Happy Goodmans. In between gospel music and the singing families, there is a symbiotic relation.

Gospel musicians often learn to read music, sing, and play musical instruments in their family as learning native language. Harmony is just happens spontaneously in the family. It’s almost natural, not required anything to learn.

The striking harmonic quality of family voices in the ensembles produces a balanced sound, unchallenged by non-kinship groups.

Amateur Gospel Music in Social Life

Kinship ties and their common love for gospel music hold together the singing families as a social glue. This music helps to create and maintain generational continuity.

Singing provides young family members to cohere with older singing members of the family. Being band member of a singing family makes youngsters feel just as important as the adult performers in the family ensemble (like having an equal footing with the parents). Ivis Roy talked about the convenience of family groups.

“I liked our family group because it was handy,” he said. “We didn’t have to wait on other singers, or have to go to get them. When we got ready to go, we just milked the old cow and went to where we were going. We sang at home, sang in the field; we sang in the barn, and sang while we milked the cows.”

The Pioneer of Amateur Spirit in Gospel: Haste Family

Even the region have hosted lots of gospel families that has amateur spirit, one of them differ from others with its pioneer role. In terms of long-lasting familial singing groups in last century history, the Haste family, with its five continuous musician generations deserve to be in the limelight. The Haste family that have founded nearly two dozen singing ensembles since 1900 such as Haste Quartet, The Bethelridge Quartet, the Happy Travelers, is over-identify with gospel music in the region.

Amateur Culture as Moral and Cultural Continuity

Most importantly, these people earned their keep by not music as a profession. They live in countryside and has another job, mostly farmers. This sometimes might interrupt amateur-musical activities. For example, the Happy Travelers had disbanded on New Year’s Eve, 1979, because some group members were dairy farmers and in lack of spare time. Additionally, they follow their passion with amateur spirit. They have preferred moral values than material ones. According to an old stager, they did not charge fee for invited events, but generally took the offered amounts. Even some inviters would just put the money in their pockets. However, if inviters were known as poor to afford it, they would refund the price without hesitation.

Briefly, the gospel music has a function that reaches far beyond its performance.

While it may be a form of entertainment, it has power to satisfy deeper emotional and spiritual needs.

Amateur and familial gospel music tradition can be evaluated as a carrier of some values. Gospel music provides the singer and the listener with a sense of well-being and with a strong feeling of spiritual and cultural continuity.

Surely, culture, family and music triangle shapes social, musical and cultural atmosphere of the people in that region. Amateur culture vitalizes human beings by feeding them with values.

Amateur Culture, gospel music and family ? What about you ?

Please share with us.

Family is like music,

Some high notes, some low notes

But always a beautiful song.