When Sunday Comes
by Professor Claudrena N. Harold
4/5 In this insightful study of gospel music Professor Harold begins with a personal introduction explaining how family and community influences shaped her experience and understanding of gospel music.
From Reverend James Cleveland through the 1960s the author traces developments and debates in the gospel music industry to BeBe and CeCe Winans and Take 6 in the 1990s.
Cleveland signing with the Savoy record label for a rumoured 6 figure annual salary with a contract requiring several albums a year was a clear indication that it really had become an industry. It saw him have popular and commercial success to the extent of regularly having several songs concurrently in the top ten in the gospel charts. The Gospel Music Workshop of America, which he founded to develop and promote young talent, is an organisation that now numbers some 75,000 and features throughout When Sunday Comes.
Cleveland's criticism of Mighty Clouds of Joy when they had a "rock gospel" hits with the ABC label, arguing that in rock gospel the music takes precedence over the message is another recurring theme of the book.
The criticism of those who were perceived to have "sold out" by gospel purists for their collaboration in the secular realm continued to be a theme with Andrae Crouch and his involvement in film and TV. The uneasy relationship between Gospel Music and Contemporary Christian Music is considered in Crouch who often performed to predominantly white audiences. His appeal was due in part to the rise of the culturally radical Jesus Movement but it wasn't always a neat fit leading him to announce to one crowd "to those of you from the First Church of the Frigidaire, you don't have to do nothing. But if you come from the other side of the tracks ... we want you to clap your hands and join in with us" which seemed to break the ice.
Chronicling the careers of artists including Shirley Caesar, Walter Hawkins brother of Edwin Hawkins of the crossover hit O Happy Day, Reverend Al Green who started in pop music and made the transition into gospel, the Clark Sisters and groups such as Echoes, Commissioned and the Winans, Harold also considers the Detroit sound and classic black record labels such as Savoy and House of Beauty and their relationship with predominantly white labels Benson, Sparrow and Word.
In When Sunday Comes Professor Harold combines extensive research with access to first hand sources to produce a masterful documentary written from the perspective of a fan and an insider.
ARC courtesy Netgalley