October 2015 theme: Gospel & religious music

“The art of music is divine and effective. It is the food of the soul and spirit. Through the power and charm of music, the spirit of man is uplifted,” said religious leader Abdu’l-Bahá, son of the founder of the Bahai faith Bahá'u'lláh, in 1912.[i]

South Africa's Grammy-winning Soweto Gospel Choir. Photo: positivelybeautifulthemovie.com
South Africa's Grammy-winning Soweto Gospel Choir. Photo: positivelybeautifulthemovie.com

Today these words still ring true - music is indeed food for the soul. While this applies to all genres of music, no genre aims to inspire and uplift as much as Gospel. In Africa in particular, gospel represents an increasingly popular genre of music. Gospel artists not only inspire and uplift millions of music fans throughout Africa and the diaspora, in certain countries they are some of the few remaining musicians that continue to enjoy healthy sales and income – a sign of the genre’s growing importance within the music industry. For this reason, we have chosen Gospel and other forms of sacred or religious music as our theme for the month of October.

Music In Africa has commissioned and published numerous overview texts on the subject, covering countries across the continent, including Uganda, Nigeria, Malawi and Tanzania, with others published in French and many more still to come. They show that while religious music was once limited to certain settings (choirs in churches, for example) in recent years it has become a popular genre in its own right, with large live concerts and frequent airplay on radio and TV.


[i] From The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912 (2nd edition). Wilmette, IL: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1982, pp. 52–54) [147]

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