Gospel Music

Travis Greene’s and Chrisette Michele’s Trump Inauguration Decisions: Victims of Misplaced Anger

Travis Greene and Chrisette Michele Perform at 2017 Presidential Inauguration

(Photo Credit: The Washington Post)

A decision to perform yesterday, January 20, 2017, at President Donald J. Trump’s Presidential Inauguration doesn’t constitute an endorsement. Although the thought of a Trump presidency is difficult for most on the Left to fathom, and unsettling for some on the Right, accepting an invitation to perform on Inauguration Day has never historically been viewed as a political act—certainly not an overt political act. Those who have had the distinct privilege to present their talent on this day do it not simply for the new president, but also the nation and world. Travis Greene, nominated in 2016 for a Grammy award for the gospel hit single “Intentional,” exhibited his great talent at one of Trump’s inaugural balls. He, lamentably, received crass attacks from many acrimonious black folks for his decision to sing at this event. Given that Greene prefaced his decision by expressing he seriously contemplated how Jesus would respond to this invitation, it’s reasonable to deduce that the artist isn’t a Trump supporter. For Greene, singing at the inaugural ball presents a prodigious opportunity to promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Travis Greene, in a joint performance with Chrisette Michele, who was also viciously lambasted for her decision to sing at Trump’s inaugural event, ministered in song with high-energy and brilliance. Regrettably, for Chrisette Michele, Spike Lee upbraided her for choosing to perform at the event: he discontinued considering her music for his upcoming soundtrack to the Netflix television series adaptation of his 1986 film She’s Gotta Have It. Michele revealed how “heartbroken” she is by the numerous harsh, disparaging responses to her decision.

Both Greene and Michele are young national recording artists. Situated in a postmodern, late capitalist society, both artists must constantly seek imaginative ways to market themselves and their music. What better way to market their music and increase their reach than at a presidential inauguration while the world is watching? If most—if not all—of their disingenuous critics would have been in their situations and had an opportunity for a global audience to witness their talent, they wouldn’t have experienced a moment of reticence; they would’ve seized the extraordinary moment, the remarkable opportunity. Greene and Michele did. They deserve laudatory remarks—not childish invective.

For those believing President Trump is an evil man with nefarious intentions for blacks and other minorities, Greene’s desire to inoculate the Gospel of Jesus Christ into the inaugural ball would seem to be a ray of hope in a dark place. The Gospel calls all of us to seek peace, justice, and love. Wouldn’t this inaugural event be a fine place to proffer a message of peace, justice, and love? A Christian truly following the example of Christ has no problem meeting with and performing for a president he or she disagrees with on many issues.

These unfounded, precarious, censoriously abusive attacks on Greene and Michele exemplify misplaced anger. If one has a problem with Trump, then let Trump truly be the focus of his or her scorn—not two young black national recording artists elated to have enough talent and acclaim to sing for the president, the nation, and the world. As Bernice King, the daughter of slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., posited at the 2017 Martin Luther King, Jr. Annual Commemorative Service held at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, “We still have to find a way to create…the beloved community,” the beloved community her father passionately championed until his odious assassination. Adopting a policy, a strategy of estrangement toward Trump will prove immature and ineffective.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Advertisements

SoulTrain.com Feature on Kierra “Kiki” Sheard

Kierra Sheard

Kierra “Kiki” Sheard, daughter of renowned gospel music artist Karen Clark-Sheard, has become an accomplished gospel music artist at only 25 years old.  It was at six years old that a public audience first had a chance to witness Kierra Sheard’s amazing vocals at Greater Emmanuel Institutional Church of God in Christ, pastored by her father Bishop J. Drew Sheard.  Her first appearance on a professional album occurred when she was 10 years old.  She was a featured vocalist on her mother’s debut solo album, Finally Karen (1997), on the song “The Will of God,” written by Bishop Richard “Mr. Clean” White. The song won a 1998 Stellar Award for Best Children’s Performance.  Kiki earned an undergraduate degree in English with a minor in Psychology from Wayne State University.

Read the rest of my article published at SoulTrain.com.

“Like” the article on SoulTrain.com and leave a comment on it at SoulTrain.com.

SoulTrain.com Feature on Tamela Mann

Tamela MannAcclaimed gospel music artist and actress Tamela Mann has the number one gospel music single, “Take Me to the King,” which is from her latest album Best Days (2012).  She’s known by many for her role as Cora Simmons in several of Tyler Perry’s plays, including I Can Do Bad All By Myself, Madea’s Family ReunionMadea’s Class Reunion, Meet the Browns and What’s Done in the Dark.  Mann was an actress in Kingdom Come and Diary of a Mad Black Woman.  She first began singing in her church’s adult choir at the age of 12, and she often performed solos.  Her professional singing career began with the renowned gospel group Kirk Franklin and the Family.  She has collaborated with many diverse artists, including Bono, Mary J. Blige, Al Green, Yolanda Adams, Celine Dion, R. Kelly and Fred Hammond, and is married to David Mann, most known for his role as Deacon Leroy Brown in several of Tyler Perry’s plays. Read the full article here: SoulTrain.com

Share, “Like,” and comment on this article from the SoulTrain.com website here: Tamela Mann: A Leading Lady in Gospel Music.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

You Don’t Have to Live Like a Nun or Monk to be a True Christian

Far too many people, especially young people, are being turned off by Christianity because too many preachers are making it seem like they have to live like a nun or monk to be a true Christian.  Before you listen to what a preacher has to say about how to live a true Christian life, begin to read your bible for yourself.  There are a number of translations of the bible available for you—pick the translation or translations that work for you.  Don’t simply read your bible but study it.  Purchase biblical study aids that will enrich your study and give you deeper understandings of God’s word.  Read and study your bible for yourself!

Now, I’m not suggesting at all that you should not go to church and listen to the teaching and preaching of a man of God.  You should go to church and listen to the teaching and preaching of a man of God to accompany your reading and studying of the bible.  Just don’t let the teaching and preaching the man of God does be your only engagement with the bible.  In fact, God commands each person to study His word to “show thyself approved.”

Many young people feel like being a true Christian is simply too difficult because preachers make it seem almost like they cannot do anything, especially anything that’s fun.  I want to let young people know that you can have fun and still be a true Christian.  Of course, there are clear things that the bible point out that you cannot do, but there is so much more that you can do while you enjoy a personal relationship with God.

Although many preachers believe that it’s a sin to listen to non-Gospel music, such as rap and pop music, I want you to challenge them to give you some substantive teaching about how this is a sin.  Don’t simply let them rap one, two, or three scriptures to you—challenge them to give you some true and deep biblical teaching about this subject.  What you will discover is they will not be able to offer you much bible-based teaching about this subject.  However, I want you to be on high alert for them to attempt to present their personal opinions and preferences as if they are grounded in the scriptures and biblical principles.  You don’t want to be living your life based on someone’s opinions—live your life based on what God’s word truly says.  Don’t let preachers shame you out of listening to non-Gospel music by telling you that non-Gospel music is “the Devil’s music.”  “The Devil’s music”?  Really?  Some Gospel songs can be far more depressing and damaging than many non-Gospel songs.

When preachers tell you that you cannot go to the movies, I want you to challenge them on this subject in the same way I have discussed about challenging them on their opposition to you listening to non-Gospel music.  You can be a true Christian and go to the movies.

Now, if you do want to be a nun or monk, I applaud you for wanting to live a life of this type.  However, for those who don’t want to be a nun or monk, I want you to know that you can live a victorious and saved life in this present world and have tons of fun!  You don’t have to be a “bible thumper” to go to Heaven and you don’t have to talk about God every second in order to make it into Heaven.

Don’t miss out on the full life that you can be living simply because you failed to read and study your bible and only listened to what your pastor had to say about the bible.  At the end of the day, your pastors are men of God but they are still human beings, and, as we all know, all human beings are not perfect and do make mistakes.  Being a Christian means that you are a personal follower of Christ.  Your pastor cannot live your walk with God for you—you have to live your walk with Christ for yourself.

In no way should this article be perceived as an attack on any preacher, but it’s more of a call for people to realize that they need to experience God for themselves, and one of the most intimate and meaningful ways to experience God for yourself is to read and study His word for yourself.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Kirk Franklin and the Significance of Hip-Hop-Oriented Gospel Music

The arrival of Kirk Franklin on the gospel music scene is without question a watershed in gospel music history. His contemporary style of music and willingness to collaborate with Hip-Hop artists engendered great controversy (and still does). Young African-American Christians and non-Christians received Kirk Franklin’s style of music tremendously well, but older African-American Christians did not. One of the reasons why I find such a tremendous interest in examining Kirk Franklin’s impact on gospel music is how he unsettled, unnerved, and unhoused traditional and limited notions of art within gospel music. His ability to usher in a Hip-Hop-oriented fusion of gospel music evinces how gospel music has the potential to have a significant influence across racial, ideological, and theological boundaries.

While I love traditional gospel artists like Shirley Ceasar, James Moore, James Cleveland and Dorothy Norwood, their music does not have the power to reach a much wider audience than Kirk Franklin’s music has and can. Please, don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying that traditional gospel music did not and does not have a significant impact and influence on people’s lives. In fact, without traditional gospel music contemporary gospel music could not have emerged. Traditional gospel music has been such a powerful medium of support, uplift, and deliverance for scores of African-Americans (and people of all races and ethnicities). Traditional gospel music, however, needed an update to make it more appealing and relevant to the postmodern period in which we reside.  We live in a culture where Hip-Hop culture, particularly Hip-Hop music, is such a dominant force. Regardless of whether or not people embrace Hip-Hop, it cannot be avoided. Recognizing this social reality, Kirk Franklin revolutionized gospel music by merging the best of Hip-Hop music and culture with traditional gospel music.

Many proponents of traditional gospel music have posited that Franklin’s fusion of Hip-Hop music and culture with traditional gospel music is not gospel music at all. They see this type of music as turning gospel music from sacred music to more of a secular form of music. The contemporary gospel of Kirk Franklin still represents scared music: It maintains a fundamental commitment to the glorification, worship, and acknowledgement of God. What is different about Kirk Franklin’s postmodern Hip-Hop-oriented gospel music is it understands how times have changed in such a way that the music has to change in a way to reflect the times—while maintaining a core commitment to the same Jesus of the past, present, and future. Bishop Paul L. Fortson of Paradise Church of God in Christ in Forest Park, Georgia argues that any music that has “Jesus” in it is gospel music. I completely agree with him.

Today, I salute Kirk Franklin for having the willingness to unsettle, unnerve, and unhouse African-American Christians who hold limited views of what gospel music is. Because of his willingness to be a gospel music revolutionary artist, writer, and producer, thousands of lost souls have been able to be saved and know that there is a God looking out for them. Franklin has demonstrated that Hip-Hop culture does not have to be divorced from gospel music and the Church. He helps us to understand that Hip-Hop culture lives within the Church and the people who the Church serves and desires to reach. Without Kirk Franklin, we may have never been able to see R. Kelly singing a gospel song.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison