I like music. I like all kinds of music and can play most of them. I am 30+ year professional musician. I have played it all from "Roll Out the Barrel" and "Misty" to "Good Golly Miss Molly and "Life in the Fast Lane" and many things in between and past.

However, one thing I truly enjoyed playing and performing (there is a difference) gospel music. I still listen to gospel music. One of all time favorite gospel songs is by the Mighty Clouds of Joy named "I've been in the Storm Too Long." It is a very moving and touching song.

I love Aretha Franklin's interpretation of "Amazing Grace." There are others, but I wanted to put that out there.

Yes, I love gospel music, but, and it is a big but, because what passes for content, either makes me smile or even laugh aloud. I probably like black gospel music because it is not stodgy, stale or unafraid to take chances. A good example of what I'm talking about is a musician and choir director from my area, "Kirk Franklin." Kirk has been banished and "buked" (rebuked) by many of the largest black churches in the country because his gospel music is undisguised hip-hop.

When he became famous outside the Dallas-Fort Worth area, suddenly gospel hip-hop groups started popping up everywhere. By the way, I like it. He has even taken songs by artists I love such as Earth, Wind and Fire (September) and turned their music into gospel songs. I think the words are inane, but the music grabs me the way it did when I played them as secular music. I'd play with him in a New York minute, but they'd drop me as soon as they found I was just having fun.

I have my beefs with Kirk, the latest being with an extraordinarily talented gospel singer, Donnie McClurkin. Donnie can sing his ass off. However, he is a "reformed homosexual" of the type that never fails to deliver scathing tirades against homosexuals. His singing isn't enough for me to turn my back on his ignorance and hypocrisy.

But back to my joy in playing gospel music. Perhaps, it is because many of gospel innovators had no honor in their home towns. Thomas Dorsey, known as the father of modern black gospel music was hardly accepted by his congregation. It seems that Mr. Dorsey had the temerity to play with such blues greats like Ma Rainey and Tampa Red and used the riffs he learned on the road to change the course of black gospel music, which is now being changed by Franklin.

Understanding music from black musicians such as myself could be summed up in what my brother and I often said, "If it ain't got no soul, it ain't worth playing." When I perform, it is not unusual to hear, "Boy, you played you ass off." This often comes from good "god-fearing" Christians.Nevertheless, I couldn't get into the magical thinking, but I could play music well enough to support weak sermons and move people to tears. I didn't particularly like that part, because it made people feel something I thought was dishonest.

As a musician, I believe music can change people. It can make them dance, shout for joy, cry and more, but I never believed for a moment that anyone felt the spirit. My brother and I used to count seconds between when we started playing a moving song to how long it took before someone got "the spirit." That may sound a bit callous to play with someone's emotions that way, but in all honesty I musty confess that we found it funny. In the places we performed regularly, we could even tell who would be the first to break ranks with the "spirit."

I am a musician. I play music. I love music. In many ways, music is me. God music? Not even consideration. It's just music. I played with Christian musicians that could be most annoying with their "God" and "Jesus" talk, but after ignoring them, they got the message. There were plenty of other musicians like my brother and I who just came to play and enjoy each other's musicianship.

My music was designed to be appreciated. That's it!

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Replies to This Discussion

Personally, I like the other Tommy Dorsey better--the jazz trombonist of long ago.

But I hear you. I enjoy playing Amazing Grace on the piano. And listen to gospel quartets.

I liked the Dorsey Brothers also, but a little to staid for me. Nevertheless they were jazz pioneers.




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