Black Gospel Music Preservation Project

History and Impact

The rich and soulful sounds from the "Golden Age of Gospel" (roughly 1945-1975) are distinctly African American. They are the voices of men and women who loved to sing and raise their voices in praise. Black gospel groups moved from town-to-town to raise money to live daily, and then moved on to the next church. Along their journey, they found time to record their unique renditions and compositions. This fertile musical time period in American history is a cultural snapshot revealing the depth of a people, their community, and the influence they have had on the rest of American music. These recordings, containing valuable history and culture, are rapidly disappearing and must be preserved.

This project is an ideal fit with Baylor and complements the university's Baptist heritage. Once completed, this digital audio archive will draw researchers to Baylor University to listen to and research the "Golden Age of Gospel Music Archive." This archive will elevate the holdings of the already strong Arts & Special Collections Research Center. The ultimate goal of the project is to preserve and store a digital copy of the audio long term, and to provide standards-based discovery tools through an online interface into a full catalog of materials, along with samples of all tracks from the audio archive. Most importantly, this beautifully sweet, vibrantly alive music will be preserved so all can enjoy, love, and learn from it for generations to come.

This project was made possible by men and women with a zeal for preserving history. When Charles Royce came across Baylor professor of journalism Robert Darden's "New York Times" op-ed of February 15, 2005, he recognized the need to preserve this important piece of history and was impressed by Professor Darden's passion. In turn, his gift to Baylor University created the Charles M. Royce Black Gospel Music Preservation Program.

In addition, the faithful support from Harold (BBA '51) and Dottie Riley of Austin continues to strengthen Baylor University's digitization efforts by equipping the Libraries with the Ray I. Riley Digitization Center, named in memory of Harold's father, and the Dottie S. Riley Conference Room. Their support has funded state-of-the-art equipment and facilities that allow the University to enhance preservation of such materials.

To expand and increase this one-of-a-kind initiative, The Prichard Family Foundation established the Lev H. Prichard III Traditional Black Music Restoration Endowed Fund in 2009. Paying tribute to Lev Prichard III, the gift embodies Lev and Ella (BA '63) Prichard's love of cultural and educational ventures.

The BGMPP and the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History & Culture

We are proud to be partners with the NMAAHC, the newest museum of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Materials from the BGMPP are featured in the museum's Musical Crossroads permanent exhibit. Learn more about the BGMPP and the NMAAHC here.

Google Map of BGMPP-Related Recording Locations

Copyright information

As a result of the preservation work of the Black Gospel Music Preservation Program, these recordings are presented here free of charge for personal, non-commercial use as a contribution to education and scholarship. Baylor University does not own the rights to any materials in this collection and therefore cannot grant or deny permission to distribute project materials. It is the user's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing music from the BGMRP.

If you have any more information about the music available from the BGMPP, or if you are the copyright owner and believe this collection has not properly attributed your work to you or has used it without permission, we want to hear from you. Please email digitalcollectionsinfo@baylor.edu to get in contact with the project staff, including your contact information and a link to the relevant content.

A Note of Thanks

A close collaborator and early supporter of this project is Chicago-based collector and scholar Robert Marovich. Baylor University is deeply appreciative and thankful for Mr. Marovich's invaluable assistance by granting access to his extensive collection of American black gospel music recordings for use in the BGMRP.

Using This Resource In Your Research?

If you're a researcher or scholar and you've found a use for our materials in your work, email us at

digitalcollectionsinfo@baylor.edu and tell us about it! We may feature your work on our Digital Collections blog or work with you to promote your work via our other social media outlets.

Activity Note

This collection is considered an active collection. Items will be added periodically as they are acquired by Baylor University and processed through the Digital Projects Group.

Get In Touch With Us

Have questions? Do you have materials that might fit in the collection? Would you like to support the project financially? Please email us at digitalcollectionsinfo@baylor.edu.

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Mailing Address:
Black Gospel Music Preservation Program
ATTN: Hannah Engstrom
Baylor University Libraries
1312 S 3rd Street
Waco, TX 76706

Email: digitalcollectionsinfo@baylor.edu