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.

While a host of gospel greats got their start in the Meditation Singers, their rendition of the Rev. James Cleveland’s “He Has Done Something for Me” is unmatched.

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The Christian Soldiers were one of the many gospel groups to record for the colorful impresario Don Robey’s fine Song Bird label in Houston. Click to listen to this episode. Click the title above to read along. 


“Have You Got Oil in Your Vessel?” by the Golden Crowns of Charlotte, NC, is a marvelous artifact from gospel music’s golden age. Click to listen to this EpisodeClick the title above to read along

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Walter Hawkins brings the whole band together on the legendary two-LP live set, The Hawkins Family from 1980.

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Austin Layne and the Layne Ensemble’s “Have Mercy, Lord” is a wonderful mixture of traditional and modern gospel music.

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Jessie Glover brings a deep, soulful groove to “Hard Times.”

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LeRoy Dulley’s hoarse shout animates his manic version of the Church of God in Christ chant, “I’m a Soldier (in the Army of the Lord).”

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The unknown Reverend Leon Hamner and the Holy City Travelers cut loose of the gospel rave-up "I've Got the Love of Jesus".


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Bessie Griffin’s towering version of “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child” is one of gospel music’s great recordings.

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Did you know Ike and Tina Turner once released a great gospel LP in 1973?


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The guitar playing Holmes Sisters were clearly acolytes of the immortal Sister Rosetta Tharp, as "Gonna Ride This Train" quickly makes clear.

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"Mother's Advice" by Georgia's Taylor Brothers is a gently rocking country gospel jewel.

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Sister Josephine James' slow and bluesy rendition of "God Can Make a Way" will give you shivers!

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Sister Rosetta Tharp's legacy as one of the greatest gospel artists of all time is cemented by breezy, bouncy gospel swing tunes like this one, "Go Ahead".


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"Glad That Trouble Don't Last Alsways" is a lasting tribute to one of gospel's least-known - but always listenable - labels: Designer Records from Memphis, Tennessee.


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