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Gospel Music Heritage Month was spearheaded and pioneered by Alvin V. Williams in 2007. Gospel Music Heritage Month in the United States was established in June 2008, by dual legislation passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate designated September as Gospel Music Heritage Month.

Black gospel music, often called gospel music or gospel, is a genre of African-American Christian music. It is rooted in the conversion of enslaved Africans to Christianity, both during and after the trans-atlantic slave trade, starting with work songs sung in the fields and, later, with religious songs sung in various church settings, later classified as Negro Spirituals (which shaped much of traditional Black gospel).

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Black Gospel music has been traditionally concerned with the African-American quest for freedom. It has provided both "spiritual and communal uplift," first in the fields, and later in the Black Church; during the 1960s era in the South, it was described as the "soundtrack of the struggle for civil rights," helping create unity and faith for the work.


The modern iteration of the genre, contemporary gospel, emerged in the late 1970s as a fusion of the traditional genre with the musical stylings of the era in secular Black music, which resulted in popularizing a whole new generation of artists and songs, expanding the larger genre's reach.

Also a popular form of commercial music, Black gospel was revolutionized in the 1930s by Thomas Dorsey, the "father of gospel music," who is credited with composing more than 1,000 gospel songs, including "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" and "Peace in the Valley." Dorsey also created the first gospel choir and sold millions of copies of his recordings nationwide. The Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago, Dorsey's home church, is currently in development as the National Museum of Gospel Music.

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