Fascinating music

Gospel music’s return to the mainstream

Previously, secular artists such as Chance the Rapper, Justin Beiber and Kanye West have all released gospel music in the past two years – so what does this mean for the gospel music community? And the Christian community?

Lipscomb gospel choir member and musical theater major Téa Doherty shares her perspective on artists like Kanye West.

“If the word of God is preached… whoever is not against us is for us!” So what do I care if Kanye does gospel music? It’s awesome! I dig it.

Since grade 6, student Ryan Lusk has been an avid Kanye fan.

“I think a lot of Christians get weird swearing and talking about substance use and things like that. I think it’s actually really cool to be able to mix it up…I think normal people can love Jesus too and I think they do a good job of expressing that through music,” Lusk said.

“Sometimes Christians fall into the critical side of things… What do you do? You’re a fool in the name of religion, and I don’t think Jesus would do that.

Téa loves Chance’s single, “How Great.” “The fact that it’s a capella and that I always feel like nothing is missing is really powerful,” she said. “There are no limits to gospel music, it’s just big and bold. I love it.”

Aaron Howard, director of the gospel choir at Lipscomb University, gives credit to secular performers where they are due.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to Kanye West because West starting his Sunday Service Choir has made gospel music more intriguing and appealing to more young people from diverse backgrounds,” Howard said. “…I just think we have to be careful not to create Christian celebrities out of people because they’re already celebrities.”

Gospel music played a vital role in the spiritual formation of Aaron Howard, and many others as well. As it returns to the mainstream, we can only hope it continues to transform lives.

“We have all been alone. We were all sad. We have all needed God to perform a miracle or do something on our behalf and the gospel gives voice to this part of the human condition,” he said. “We all go through pain and despair and we all need a language around which to meet and approach God.”