In When the Church Becomes Your Party, author Deborah Smith Pollard assesses contemporary gospel music as the genre enters the twenty-first century. She argues that although the flashy clothing, informal language, and elaborate stage presentation found in some of the newest gospel music might not be what some worshippers expect, this new aesthetic rests on the same Christian principles as more traditional forms and actually extends its message to a wider and younger audience.
In this volume Pollard looks at contemporary gospel music with the insider’s perspective she has acquired as a regular participant in praise and worship services in the Detroit area and through her work as a successful gospel concert producer (The Motor City Praisefest and the McDonald’s GospelFest) and host of a popular Sunday morning gospel show on Detroit’s FM 98 WJLB. Among the topics she considers in When the Church Becomes Your Party are praise and worship music, gospel musical stage plays, the changing dress code of gospel performance, women gospel announcers, and holy hip hop. She draws on Detroit’s thriving gospel scene as well as her knowledge of the national gospel music industry to identify important trends in each area and trace the cultural transformations that brought them about. In addition, Pollard includes interviews with contemporary gospel artists, allowing them to explain why they rap, make particular choices in attire, or participate in gospel radio, praise and worship, or gospel musical plays.
While other studies address some of the subtopics included in this volume, When the Church Becomes Your Party offers a comprehensive picture of the history and future of contemporary gospel music. Scholars of music and African American cultural studies will enjoy this intriguing volume.