Highway 61 Revisited: The Tangled Roots of American Jazz, Blues, and Country Music

By Gene Santoro | Go to book overview

9
The Gospel Highway

THE GOSPEL HIGHWAY, the church-based circuit toured by African American preachers and religious entertainers, was paved largely by segregation, but it also meant to bypass the world's sinful mores. To trace its twists and turns is to follow strands of America's cultural DNA, peer into its cognitive dissonance and paradoxes. Observers, for instance, may discuss the genetic relationships and stylistic affinities of gospel and blues, but for true believers, one is holy and the other satanic—period. That explains why Ray Charles was so viciously reviled by the faithful in 1955, when he rocked an old spiritual in the then-new soul gospel style, added leering lyrics, called it “I Got a Woman,” and scored a hit that helped launch soul music: He had blasphemed, as surely as if he'd had sex in Sunday school.

Charles's new sound transposed the Pentecostal moans of soul gospel's male quartets into popular culture, with indelible results. Among the outstanding quartets developing that style were the Dixie Hummingbirds, and in his thoughtful, well-organized Great God A'Mighty! The Dixie Hummingbirds: Celebrating the Rise of Soul Gospel Music, Jerry Zolten both recounts their career and uses them as a lens to view larger contexts. He sees the Hummingbirds consistently reinventing themselves within the evolution of African American religious culture, and positions them as key movers in the between-the-wars shift from old-time “Sister Flute” spirituals to the denser, more driving hard soul gospel of the male quartets. These four-part-harmony groups (actual numbers could vary; the 'Birds were usually a quintet or sextet with multiple tenors) shouted with a raucous call-and-response fervor that fused Holiness Church grace with devil blues, attracting women, young folk, and integrated audiences. In the process, they helped link the Gospel Highway to the vast interconnected web that the postwar American entertainment business was becoming.

Drawing on seminal books like Anthony Heilbut's The Gospel Sound as well as his own research and interviews, Zolten skillfully navigates these sometimes explosive changes. He conveys the complex moral codes of the churches in which the Dixie Hummingbirds sang while illustrating how

-93-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Highway 61 Revisited: The Tangled Roots of American Jazz, Blues, and Country Music
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 312

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.