Graceway is well known for its diverse representation of cultures. Tomorrow night, Saturday, June 13 at 6pm, we’re celebrating our ties to the American South with a night of southern gospel music. If you find yourself wondering what makes “southern gospel” different from “gospel”…read on!

Most sources cite 1910 as when southern gospel became a distinct genre – the first professional quartet was formed to help sell songbooks that year. Commonly characterized by male quartets, southern gospel has evolved in recent years to include solo artists and duets. The genre gave people a “Christian” alternative to mainstream music. It was popularized by traveling singing groups, including The Blackwood Brothers and The Speer Family. Groups started off a capella or around a piano, and regional influences of bluegrass, jazz, and ragtime expanded the sound.

The music itself features a broad range of influences, including country gospel, traditional hymns, gospel, and bluegrass. Much of the lyrical influence came from Methodist and Evangelical churches in the southeastern United States. Radio played a significant role in popularizing the genre. Southern gospel holds a number of “firsts”: the first group to travel by bus, the first blended groups (male and female) touring together, and the first annual music festival.

Consider joining us tomorrow night at 6pm for our southern gospel event. This free concert features classic songs and a bit of country twang that will speak to your soul. Whether you’re a fan of The Gaither Vocal Band, The Florida Boys, or Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, you’re sure to hear something that will touch your heart and get your toe tappin’.