We are heartbroken to say that our beautiful Alan, creator of this website, passed away on 10th June 2023.   Despite being very ill for several months it was still too soon and we miss him so very much.   Our worlds are so much smaller without him but the immense love and joy that he brought us every single day will never be lost from our hearts.

His love for blues music was a lifelong passion and he thoroughly enjoyed every moment of the time he spent with his many friends at the festivals and gigs over so many years.  He left us as he’d lived, with peace, dignity and that quiet smile.

Christine, Sarah, Katie & Terry

‘The Half Ain’t Never Been Told’
“The story of the blues is a story that has been told a number of times … as far as black music as a whole is concerned it is a half-story. This emphasis has drawn attention away from other important vocal traditions, particularly the sacred vocal traditions, from the song-sermons of the Baptist and Sanctified preachers to the gospel songs of the church congregations and of the ‘jack-leg’ preachers and evangelists”.
– Paul Oliver, Songsters and Saints – Vocal Traditions on Race Records, Cambridge University Press, 1984.


This is the sister website to ‘Earlyblues.com’, helping to redress the balance between the blues and sacred vocal traditions by specialising in early gospel music and particularly lesser known singers and groups, from the spirituals and sacred songs in the 1870s through the evolution of gospel music to the end of WW II (refered to simply as ‘pre war’ throughout the website).

The website is intended to give the reader an introduction to the history and evolution of gospel music as an on-line information resource. It includes the origins of gospel music, a chronology of key dates and significant events, influential churches in the American south, bibliographical summaries of preachers and their congregations / ‘jack-leg’ preachers and evangelists / gospel singers, essays and articles specialising in early gospel music, current and future research projects, a discography including key recordings, a bibliography of key reference literature, and a list of Internet resources used for reference and further research.

The website is being continually developed and enhanced over time, and from January 2019 converted to a new format, so please be patient if the reference you are looking for is in the ‘Coming Soon’ category. Also the website is best viewed on a laptop or desktop PC –  tablets, phones and other small size gadgets may not display some content as intended.

Thanks to my wife Christine and my good friend blues/gospel historian Max Haymes for their guidance and support in developing this website.



One of the first recorded gospel song releases : OKeh – 8352.  “John Said He Saw A Number” (8352-A) / “My Soul Is A Witness For The Lord” (8352-B) by Arizona Dranes (vocals/piano) with Sara Martin and Richard M Jones on vocal choruses and sanctified piano solos.  Recorded 17th June 1926 in Chicago.  First advertised in the Chicago Defender on 14th August 1926.


For the record: this is an educational website and no content may be copied for commercial use (click here for the copyright notice).

Note to Educators and Church representatives: The material on this website is often used (with permissions granted) by educators within schools and the church. If you wish to request permission to use any of the material please email me with the details – alan.white@earlygospel.com .

I hope you find the website content interesting and useful. It has been developed as a personal initiative without any sponsorship or commercial ties. Any mistakes are my own. If you have any comments, corrections, contributions (information/articles/essays) or any other queries, please email me, Alan White at alan.white@earlygospel.com



“I have found earlygospel.com to be a huge help in my Worship Arts class. The material is thoroughly researched and extremely informative. Because of this site, my students will grow tremendously in their knowledge of Gospel Music’s history. Keep up the good work!”
– Billy Buchanan, University Christian School, Jacksonville, FL, USA


Member of the Gospel Music Association