Then Sings My Soul: The Culture of Southern Gospel Music

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University of Illinois Press, May 15, 2012 - Music - 256 pages
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In this ambitious book on southern gospel music, Douglas Harrison reexamines the music's historical emergence and its function as a modern cultural phenomenon. Rather than a single rhetoric focusing on the afterlife as compensation for worldly sacrifice, Harrison presents southern gospel as a network of interconnected messages that evangelical Christians use to make individual sense of both Protestant theological doctrines and their own lived experiences. Harrison explores how listeners and consumers of southern gospel integrate its lyrics and music into their own religious experience, building up individual--and potentially subversive--meanings beneath a surface of evangelical consensus.   Reassessing the contributions of such figures as Aldine Kieffer, James D. Vaughan, and Bill and Gloria Gaither, Then Sings My Soul traces an alternative history of southern gospel in the twentieth century, one that emphasizes the music's interaction with broader shifts in American life beyond the narrow confines of southern gospel's borders. His discussion includes the "gay-gospel paradox"--the experience of non-heterosexuals in gospel music--as a cipher for fundamentalism's conflict with the postmodern world.

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Solid read on a seldom-studied genre
Harrison offers a most unique take and a fresh perspective on the Southern Gospel genre. His writing strikes a just-right balance by tempering the authority and
skepticism of an academic with the passions of a confessed fan. He melds together history, culture, creativity, spirituality, and the technical side of music for a new look into a fascinating musical subculture. 


A Native Informants Report from the Field
1 Glory Bumps or The Psychodynamics of the Southern Gospel Experience
2 Nostalgia Modernity and the Reconstruction Roots of Southern Gospel
3 The Rise of Southern Gospel Music and the Compensations of History
4 The Gaitherization of Contemporary Southern Gospel
5 Southern Gospel in the Key of Queer
The Souls Best Song
Songs Referenced
Methods and Preliminary Findings of a Survey of Attitudes and Beliefs about Southern Go
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About the author (2012)

Douglas Harrison is an associate professor of English at Florida Gulf Coast University.

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