I wonder about this frequently because I participate in Gospel music.

When I was a graduate student, I was invited by friends to join their gospel choir. There was only one other white woman in the room, and I was told to go and stand next to her. We all blended well, and the director appreciated the different voice types. Fast forward to 2010, and another friend and I had a slight difference of opinion as to what “gospel singing” meant. I sang a few lines of “Precious Lord, Take My Hand,” and she was taken aback. To her it sounded too “operatic” and I defended my interpretation as one of cultural fusion. In fact, a black woman who had been a gospel singer for years told me that the origins of gospel were built on a strong classical base. I had a similar clash with the Spanish speaking community because I identify more with the classical genre than popular or folk. What I learned was that if we are all worshiping in song, then these various genres can blend harmoniously in spirit of love and respect, as Jerliyah Craig put it.

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