The Bibliography lists recommended gospel music books with full publication details provided for further reference. Most of these books were used as sources for the website. Following the Bibliography is a list of ‘Internet Resources’, i.e. website names and addresses (URLs), again used as sources for the website. On a separate ‘Bibliography/Discography Combos’ page is a list of recommended Book / CD combinations.

The Bibliography starts with ‘General Gospel Music Books’, followed by ‘Gospel Music Catalogues’, then books on individual Gospel Singers (in alphabetical order), interjected with gospel books on particular themes.  I hope you find the content useful. If you have any recommendations of your own, or comments on the list, please let me know.

Some of the books listed are now out of print and hence unavailable to buy new. You may be lucky and come across an old copy. If you have any gospel music books you don’t want, please let me know.

Whilst I have taken every care to ensure details are correct, you may spot a mistake.  If you do, please let me know and I will correct it as soon as I can.          Thanks,

Alan White.


General Gospel Music Books

Title: Songsters and Saints : Vocal Traditions on Race Records
Author: Paul Oliver
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Date Published: 1984
ISBN: 0-521-26942-3
Title: The Spiritual and the Blues
Author: James H. Cone
Publisher: Orbis Books
Date Published: 1992
ISBN: 0-88344-747-9
Title: The  New Grove: Gospel, Blues and Jazz
Author: Paul Oliver, Max Harrison and William Bolcom
Publisher: Macmillan
Date Published: 1986
ISBN: 0-333-40785-7
Title: Saints and Sinners
Religion, Blues and (D)evil in African-American Music and Literature
Author: Edited by Robert Sacré
Publisher: Université de Liège
Date Published: 1996
Notes: Proceedings of the Conference held by Société Liégeoise de Musicologie at the Université de Liège in October 1991
Title: The Music of Black Americans – A History
Author: Eileen Southern,
Professor Emerita of Music and Afro-American Studies, Harvard University
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Date Published: 1997 (Third Edition)
ISBN: 0-393-03843-2
Notes: A history of the several genres and many styles of music which, taken together, define African-American music in the United States.
Title: Readings In Black American Music
Author: Compiled and Edited by Eileen Southern,
Professor Emerita of Music and Afro-American Studies, Harvard University
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Date Published: 1983 (Second Edition)
ISBN: 0-393-95280-0
Notes: A collection of readings of the history of black American music from the seventeenth century to the present time, originally intended to serve as a companion work to the author’s “The Music of Black Americans” – see above.
Title: Lost Delta Found
Rediscovering the Fisk University-Library of Congress Coahoma County Study, 1941-1942
Author: Manuscripts by John W. Work, Lewis Wade Jones and Samuel C. Adams, Jr. Edited by Robert Gordon and Bruce Nemerov
Publisher: Vanderbilt University Press, Nashville
Date Published: 2005
ISBN: 0-8265-1485-5
Title: To Do This, You Must Know How: Music Pedagogy in the Black Gospel Quartet Tradition (American Made Music Series)
Author: Lynn Abbott and Doug Seroff
Publisher: University Press of Mississippi
Date Published: 2015
ISBN: 978-1496802484
Notes: To Do This, You Must Know How traces black vocal music instruction and inspiration from the halls of Fisk University to the mining camps of Birmingham and Bessemer, Alabama, and on to Chicago and New Orleans.

Review:   This pioneering book sets a new standard of excellence for work in the field of gospel music. It is a serious scholarly study based on much original research, very strongly footnoted, but remains free of jargon and so is exquisitely readable. Chapter one details the origins of the genre, from 1850s references to the Fisk ante-bellum era, showing the development of group harmony through the Jubilee period, focusing on the person of John Work II in Nashville. Chapter two deals with the Birmingham singers, and the movement from choral style to quartet arrangement. It discusses in detail, but not in arcane musical theory, the nuts and bolts of how these less formal arrangements developed and were taught, and highlights the place of gospel trainers, as opposed to choir directors, and also moving from strictly written to aural sources. Chapter three shows the movement to Chicago, with a fine re-assessment of the roll of Thomas A. Dorsey, Chapter four concludes with the gospel movement in New Orleans and the eventual decline of the genre when stylistic changes and public taste changed. This is a seminal, original and significant work that is necessary for anyone interested in black music who has even a passing familiarity to gospel music.

Title: Take Me To The Water
Immersion Baptism In Vintage Music and Photography 1890-1950
Authors: Photographs from the collection of Jim Linderman, Essays by Jim Linderman and Luc Santi, Notes on Songs and Sermons by Steven Lance Ledbetter.
Songs and Sermons from 1924-1940 from the collections of Joe Bussard, Steven Lance Ledbetter, Frank Mare and Roger Misiewicz.
Publisher: Dust-To-Digital, Atlanta, Georgia
Date Published: 2009
Notes: Accompanying 25 track CD of songs and sermons.
Title: People Get Ready!
A New History of Black Gospel Music
Author: Robert Darden
Publisher: Continuum International Publishing Group, New York
Date Published: 2004
ISBN: 0-8264-1436-2
Title: The Frog Blues & Jazz Annual
The Musicians, the Records and the Music of the 78 era
Author: Edited by Paul Swinton
Publisher: Frog Records Ltd
Date Published: Annually: No. 1 published in 2010, No. 2 published in 2011
ISBN: 978-0-9564717-1-0
Notes: Series of research articles alongside some affectionate glimpses at the Musicians, the Records and the Music of the 78 era, including articles on gospel musicians and music.
Title: Afro-Muse
The Evolution of Afro-American Music
Author: Ian C. Dawkins Moore
Date Published: 2009
Title: A City Called Heaven: Chicago and the Birth of Gospel Music
Author: Robert M. Marovich
Publisher: University of Illinois Press
Date Published: 2015
ISBN: 978-0252080692
Notes: In A City Called Heaven, gospel announcer and music historian Robert Marovich shines a light on the humble origins of a majestic genre and its indispensable bond to the city where it found its voice: Chicago. Marovich follows gospel music from early hymns and camp meetings through the Great Migration that brought it to Chicago. In time, the music grew into the sanctified soundtrack of the city’s mainline black Protestant churches.
Title: Happy in the Service of the Lord:
Afican American Sacred Vocal Harmony Quartets in Memphis
Author: Kip Lornell
Publisher: The University of Tennessee Press
Date Published: 1995 (Second Edition)
ISBN: 0-87049-877-0
Notes: “Happy in the Service of the Lord” provides an in-depth look at the development of the African-American gospel quartet. Focusing argely on Memphis – long famous for its blues, jazz, and soul music – Kip Lornell reveals the special contributions that quartet members have made to the cultural and musical identity of the city.

Gospel Music Catalogues

Title: Blues & Gospel Records (1890-1943)
Author: Dixon, Godrich  and Rye
Publisher: Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK
Date Published: 1997 (Fourth Edition)
ISBN: 0-19-816239-1
Title: Uncloudy Days – The Gospel Music Encyclopedia
Author: Bill Carpenter
Publisher: Backbeat Books
Date Published: 2005
ISBN: 978-0-87930-841-4
Title: Afro-American Religious Music
A Biliography and A Catalogue of Gospel Music
Author: Compiled by Irene V. Jackson
Publisher: Greenwood Press
Date Published: 1979
ISBN: 0-313-20560-4
Title: Encyclopedia of American Gospel Music
Author: Edited by W. K. McNeil
Publisher: Routledge
Date Published: 2010
ISBN: 978-0-415-87569-1

Gospel Music Composers

Title: We’ll Understand It Better By and By
Author: Edited by Bernice Johnson Reagon
Publisher: Smithsonian Institution Press
Date Published: 1992
ISBN: 978-1-56098-167-1

Gospel Singers

Reverend Gary Davis
Title: Oh, What A Beautiful City
A Tribute to The Reverend Gary Davis (1896-1972)
Author: Compiled by Robert Tilling
Publisher: Mel Bay Publications, Inc.
Date Published: 2010
ISBN: 978-078668258-4
The Dixie Hummingbirds
Title: Great God A’Mighty! The Dixie Hummingbirds / Celebrating the Rise of Soul Gospel Music
Author: Jerry Zolten
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Date Published: 2003
ISBN: 978-0195152722
Notes: From the Jim Crow world of 1920s Greenville, South Carolina, to Greenwich Village’s Café Society in the ’40s, to their 1974 Grammy-winning collaboration on “Loves Me Like a Rock,” the Dixie Hummingbirds have been one of gospel’s most durable and inspiring groups. Jerry Zolten tells the Hummingbirds’ fascinating story and with it the story of a changing music industry and a changing nation.
Thomas Andrew Dorsey
Title: The Rise of Gospel Blues
Author: Michael W. Harris
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Date Published: 1992
ISBN: 0-19-506376-7
Title: Development of African American Gospel Piano Style (1926-1960):
A Socio-Musical Analysis of Arizona Dranes and Thomas A. Dorsey
Author: Idella Lulamae Johnson
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh
Date Published: 2009
Arizona Juanita Dranes
Title: Development of African American Gospel Piano Style (1926-1960):
A Socio-Musical Analysis of Arizona Dranes and Thomas A. Dorsey
Author: Idella Lulamae Johnson
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh
Date Published: 2009
Title: He Is My Story : The Sanctified Soul of Arizona Dranes
Author: Michael Corcoran
Publisher: Tompkins Square
Date Published: 2012
ISBN: 978-0-615-61615-5
Notes: The book includes a CD containing all 16 of Arizona Dranes’ recorded tracks, expertly remastered from the original OKeh label 78 RPM records by Grammy-winning producer Christopher King.

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Available from:

Brother Claude Ely
Title: Ain’t No Grave: the Life and Legacy of Brother Claude Ely
Author: Macel Ely II
Publisher: Dust-to-Digital
Date Published: 2011
ISBN: 978-0981734224
Notes: 360 page hardback biography with CD includes 290 sepia photographs
CD features rare and electrifying audio recordings of Pentecostal worship services in the mountains of Kentucky and Virginia accompanied by a fiery sermon preached by Brother Claude Ely.
Mahalia Jackson
Title: Got To Tell It: Mahalia Jackson Queen of Gospel
Author: Jules Schwerin
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Date Published: 1992
ISBN: 0-19-507144-1
Blind Willie Johnson
Title: Blind Willie Johnson: His Life and Music
Author: Jas Obrecht
Date Published: 2011
ISBN: Web based article
Notes: Available to read on-line here:
Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Title: Shout, Sister, Shout!
The Untold Story of Rock-And-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Author: Gayle F. Ward
Publisher: Beacon Press
Date Published: 2007
ISBN: 978-0-8070-0985-7

Internet Resources

Name Website Address
All Music Guide Archive
American Social History Project
Association for Cultural Equality
Christian Biography Resources
Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
Cross Rhythms
Discography of Historical American Recordings
Document Records
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses
National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.
OKeh Records Album Discography
Radio Screamer
Smithsonian Folkways
Starr-Gennett Foundation, Inc.
Trinity Record Company, Inc.
UK Bible Students
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