Progressive southern gospel
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|Progressive southern gospel|
|Cultural origins||Late 20th century, white evangelical Americans|
|This article is a part in a series on|
Progressive southern gospel music is music that is written to express either personal or a communal belief regarding Christian life, as well as (in terms of the varying music styles) to give a Christian alternative to mainstream secular music. Progressive southern gospel is a form of Christian music and a subgenre of gospel music and southern gospel.
Like other forms of music the creation, performance, significance, and even the definition of progressive Southern gospel varies according to culture and social context. It is composed and performed for many purposes, ranging from aesthetic pleasure, religious or ceremonial purposes, or as an entertainment product for the marketplace. However, a common theme, as with most Christian music, is praise, worship or gratitude to God and/or Christ.
Progressive southern gospel is an American music genre that has grown out of southern gospel over the past couple of decades. The style can trace its roots to groups like The Nelons in the 1980s, who appeared regularly on events with traditional Southern gospel groups despite their sound which was called "middle of the road" at the time.
Current progressive southern gospel is characterized by its blend of traditional southern gospel instrumentation with elements of modern Country and pop music. Hints of other styles are frequently employed in the mix as well. In some progressive Southern gospel, you can hear a touch of Cajun, Celtic, Bluegrass, or even Southern rock.
Where traditional southern gospel more often emphasizes blend and polish, progressive southern gospel tends to be presented with a more emotional tone. Vocalists are known for experimenting, stretching, scooping, slurring, and over accentuating melodies and diction.
Lyrically, progressive southern gospel songs are patterned after traditional southern gospel in that they maintain a clear evangelistic and/or testimonial slant. In many cases, lyrical content and/or Country diction are the only elements separating a progressive southern gospel artist from a pop oriented, contemporary Christian music artist.
Impact of The Gaither Homecoming Series
In the early 1990s, songwriters Bill and Gloria Gaither developed an enterprise known as The Gaither Homecoming Series. This did much to introduce progressive southern gospel to the masses. Through video and television distribution many progressive southern gospel artists such as The Martins, The Hoppers and The Isaacs became household names. The series has also taken these groups to such places as Ireland, Sydney, London, and South Africa, not to mention almost every major U.S. city for live concerts.
Several groups have made progressive southern gospel their genre of choice. One of the most popular and outstanding of these are The Crabb Family. With origins that go back to the country gospel genre this group has now become one of the leaders in progressive southern gospel and has even crossed over to contemporary Christian as well.
Another group that has made a huge impact on the progressive southern gospel genre would be The Isaacs. This group is deeply rooted in Bluegrass gospel but over the last decade has erupted onto the progressive scene with such hits as "Friend To The End", "Stand Still", "Carry Me" and the a capella spiritual "I Have A Father Who Can".
The Mercy River Boys evolved out of a southern gospel tradition in 1979 after releasing five albums on Canaan Records as the Singing Christians. The eight original members of the band and Nashville record executives changed the name and the artistic approach to market the band to a more progressive radio market. The Mercy River Boys are credited with being one of the founding fathers of the Christian country music genre. Their 1979 ’Breakout’ album was a finalist for a Dove Award and a Grammy award.