Gospel Music Headed To The Smithsonian Institution In Washington D.C.

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Soul Stirrers

Through Baylor University’s Black Gospel Music Restoration Project a remarkable collection of music that’s been housed in Texas is poised to add flavor to a new museum of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Today, Bob Darden is a college professor in Waco, Texas.  But in 1960, he was a small child whose father had just brought home the family’s first three LP phonograph records.  Two of them, he didn’t care about.

“The third was Mahalia Jackson’s Christmas album,” he said.  “And my parents say that at about age six or so,  that I played Mahalia’s album over and over.”Darden’s fascination lasted throughout his life.  He eventually became gospel music editor for Billboard magazine.  Then in 2005, Darden – frustrated that it was getting harder to find this music that he loved — wrote a letter to The New York Times complaining that black gospel was disappearing.  A man named Charles Royce read the letter “and called that day and said, ‘Tell me what we need to do and I’ll help fund it.’”

Royce’s gift was used to create the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project at Baylor University, where Darden was teaching.  As of today, Darden says, “We have 8,000-plus individual sides digitized and catalogued and more coming in every day.”

That’s 8,000 mostly 45 RPM gospel records – the little ones that held one song per side – from the 1940s to 1970s.  In 2011, the collection came to the attention of former first lady Laura Bush, who has a home in Waco and is on the cultural council of the Smithsonian Institution’s new museum of African-American History and Culture.

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article courtesy of TheBelleReport.net

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