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Reinvigorating the Golden Age of Gospel: A Celebration of Black Gospel Music at the 2019 Voices & Vinyl Concert

April 8, 2019

WACO, Texas (April 4, 2019) - On April 15, gospel music takes the pulpit at 2nd & Clay (former St. James Methodist Church) with the fourth annual Voices & Vinyl concert. This year's concert – sponsored by the Baylor Libraries and its Black Gospel Music Restoration Project (BGMRP) – will celebrate the "Golden Age of Gospel" music (1945-1975) and its history and impact on the modern music landscape. The event starts at 7 p.m. and is free and open to the public. 

The concert will feature songs inspired by the gospel music found in the BGMRP.  With over 3,000 items in the online collection (available at www.baylor.edu/library/gospel), the BGMRP contains classic gospel songs that date back to the 1940s. A number of the collection's songs will be remixed and performed at Voices & Vinyl by the Heavenly Voices Gospel Choir.

"Heavenly Voices is excited to participate in this event for the fourth straight year," said Eric Witherspoon, music director of Heavenly Voices and a senior mechanical engineering student at Baylor University. "It's important to celebrate the roots of gospel music while also getting to put our own signature spin on these important songs. That reinvention process keeps them fresh and relevant for today's younger audiences."

Eric Ames, the Outreach Liaison for Baylor Digital Collections and coordinator for Voices & Vinyl, credits the group for being able to share classic gospel songs in a way that resonates with today's audiences. 

"We started Voices & Vinyl in 2015 as a way to get students involved in exploring the BGMRP," Ames said. "We wanted to give Baylor students a way to experience these classic gospel songs – written and recorded almost 50 years before they were born – in a way that was immediate, relatable, and exciting. The performances we’ve seen from Heavenly Voices definitely fit that description, and we are thrilled to see what they will perform for our audience this year."

In past years, the concert took place in the foyer of Moody Memorial Library. The decision to change venues was made to encourage community participation and fellowship. 2nd & Clay, once known as St. James Methodist Church, was founded in 1874 by a freed former slave and became one of Waco’s iconic, historic African-American churches, providing a place of spirituality and worship for the African-American community. Today, the building serves as an event venue and provides a perfect location to celebrate gospel music and African-American history. 

A brief presentation on the history and impact of the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project will also be featured as part of the evening's lineup. For more information, visit https://www.baylor.edu/lib/index.php?id=959308 or contact Eric Ames at eric_ames@baylor.edu or 254-710-1576.