Robert Darden

Host of Shout! Black Gospel Music Moments

 

Robert F. Darden is the author of two dozen books, most recently: Nothing But Love in God’s Water, Volume II: Black Sacred Music from Sit-In to Resurrection City (Penn State University Press, 2016); Nothing But Love in God’s Water, Volume I: Black Sacred Music from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement(Penn State University Press, 2014); Jesus Laughed: The Redemptive Power of Humor(Abingdon Press, 2008), Reluctant Prophets and Clueless Disciples: Understanding the Bible by Telling Its Stories(Abingdon Press, 2006); and People Get Ready! A New History of Black Gospel Music(Continuum/Bloomsbury, 2004).

He is the founder of the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project at Baylor University, the world’s largest initiative to identify, acquire, digitize, categorize and eventually make accessible fast-vanishing vinyl of gospel music from gospel’s Golden Age (1945-1970). The BGMRP provides the gospel music for the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History & Culture. www.baylor.edu/lib/gospel

At Baylor, Darden has won virtually every major teaching and research award, including The Cornelia Marschall Smith Award as Outstanding Professor (2011); the first Baylor University Diversity Award (2010) and received the honor again in 2017 as the founder and member of the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project team; the Outstanding Research Professor, College of Arts & Sciences (2008); Outstanding Teaching Professor, College of Arts & Sciences (2018); and the Baylor Centennial Award (2008).

He is a popular speaker and has been the keynote speaker at a host of seminars, conferences, and stand-alone events at the University Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, the Ralph Bunche Library of the Department of State’s American Author Lecture Series, Princeton University, Yale University, the Texas Book Festival, the Louisiana Book Festival and many others.

Darden’s articles and essays have appeared in publications ranging from The New York Times to the Oxford American. He has been featured in hundreds of radio and television programs, including Fresh Air with Terri Gross(NPR), 1A with Joshua Johnson, All Things Considered(NPR), CSPAN, BBC World Service, BBC Outlook, Austrian Public Broadcasting, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 

He has also been published in The New Grove Dictionary of American Music, The Cambridge Dictionary of Christianity, the World Book Encyclopedia, the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress and is a frequent contributor toHuffington Post and Christianity Today Online.

Additionally, Darden spent twenty years as the Senior Editor forThe Wittenburg Door and another fifteen years as Gospel Music Editor forBillboard Magazine. In 2016, he created the radio insert “Shout! Black Gospel Music Moments” for KWBU-FM Waco. Darden researches, writes, and records the weekly show, which (as of July 2019) now appears on a dozen NPR stations, including KERA-FM Dallas.

Darden is married to Dr. Mary Landon Darden, CEO of the education consulting firm Higher Education Innovation, Inc. and the author of Beyond 2020: Envisioning the Future of Universities in America(American Council on Education/Rowman & Littlefield, 2009). The couple live in Waco, Texas, and have three children and four grandchildren. They are active in Seventh & James Baptist Church in Waco.

The songs of the beloved Wings Over Jordan Choir were among the first to be broadcast nationally on the radio in the United States. The choir specialized in loving arrangements of old spirituals, including this one - "Rock a My Soul."

The combined choirs make The Banks Brothers and the Greater Harvest Back Home Choir of Newark, NJ a spectacular aural feast - two great choirs singing old time gospel before a massive and appreciative audience. 


The Thunderbold of the Midwest," Brother Joe May was an incredibly versatile vocalist who never recorded secular music, despite tremendous pressure from his record label. 


Still going strong after 30 years, the Mighty Sons of Glory continue the proud "hard gospel" tradition of their heroes, the Mighty Clouds of Joy. 

"Home Going" is just one of a number of superb, high-energy gospel songs by Detroit native Victoria Hawkins on Houston's funky Peacock label. 


The masterful Soulfully album by the legendary Andrae Crouch and the Disciples is one of their best, in part because of the memorable anthem, "Through It All." 


Beginning in 1946, the beloved Gotham Records label released a host of quality 45s through 1958, including this happy, up-tempo gospel romp, "Lord, I'm Done Done" by Rudolph Lewis. 


Philadelphia's Davis Sisters recorded a host of hits for Savoy Records, including "Shine on Me," "I'm Tired," "He's My Precious King" and this rock and roll-flavor number, "Earnestly Praying."


With "Any Stars in My Crown," Jeanette Harris proved that jubilee could sound as emotional as "hard" gospel. Jeanette's rough and raspy voice was the ideal vehicle to convey the urgency and conviction of the very best of gospel music.


Clara Hudmon, better known as the Georgia Peach, was a master of the old-school singing style known as jubilee, which combined a cappella singing with the lyrics often taken directly from the spirituals.


The Jackson Southernaires have released at least 30 stellar gospel albums and had a number of hits, including the seven-minute sermon and song "Too Late," performed by the late, great Willie Banks. 

R. H. Harris, co-founder of the Soul Stirrers in 1935, was one of the legends of gospel music - and all of that history can be heard in one of his recordings with the Christland Singers in "I'm Willing to Run."


Blind Willie Johnson provides a link between the spirituals and modern gospel. This brilliant steel-guitar player was a street musician in Texas in the 1930s and '40s and only recorded two dozen incredibly rare 78s and yet he is considered one of the greatese of all American musicians. 

On "Standing Here Wondering Which Way to Go," Marion Williams is accompanied by the best studio musicians Atlantic Records has to offer - and the resulting 45 is one of the classics of gospel music. 


The popular Skyways, led by W.C. Johnson, toured heavily in the 1960s and '70s as one of the vanguard artists of the new contemporarary gospel sound. 


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