Southern gospel music has been defined as “the popular music of American Christianity.” South Central Kentucky is rich in this musical heritage that exults in vocally praising God and his attributes while expressing the hope of a better world to come. Performance styles encompass changing genres and musical tastes. The traditions ranged from the very early shape note singing schools to the continuing Kentucky Southern Gospel Music Singing Convention.
These traditions are vibrant today and continue in these conventions, churches, schools and individual performances. Folklorist Lynwood Montell sees a vibrant past and future for Kentucky Gospel music because of “sincere dedication to the God they serve, devotion to the cause of gospel music, and a love for people in general [that enables] these singers to nurture and perpetuate this historic music genre. The sounds and performance styles will undergo certain changes, [he notes,] but the children of these singers and their children’s children will be around in the twenty-first century still telling the ‘old, old story’ in gospel song.” The Kentucky Library holds and collects local gospel music from individual performers while the Kentucky Museum collects the instruments used to create the music. Only a few items from both collections are showcased in this online exhibit.
~ Nancy Richey