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 Heavenly Dew Drops were one of many first-rate artists to release music through Detroit's legendary HOB Records label. 


"Lord, I'm the True Vine" is one of the earliest recorded precursors of gospel music, recorded in 1930 by the otherwise unknown Eddie Head & Family. 


Sister Lucille Pope and the Pearly Gates never had much luck in gospel music - but that didn't keep them from releasing a host of killer gospel songs. 


Gladys McFadden and The Loving Sisters were both civil rights heroes and gospel music innovators. 


Led by Little Joe Cook, the Evening Star Quartet's frenzied 45 "Have Mercy" is a superb example of magical marriage between doo wop and jubilee singing. 


The famed organist Dr. Charles Clency can be heard on this charming 45, "Nearer My God to Thee" by the Antioch Baptist Church of Chicago Mass Choir. 


This 45 by The Howard University Gospel Choir titled "I Found God" features an early - but still scintillating - performance by the legendary Richard Smallwood. 


The 32nd Annual International Youth Congress of the Church of God in Christ produced a marvelous mass choir LP by the same name in 1967 Featuring the immortal gospel singer Kitty Parham. 


Sam Cooke and The Soul Stirrers released dozens of superb, irreplaceable gospel songs, including the sweet and sentimental "Wonderful." 


In the mid-1960s, the homespun Angelic Choir was releasing some of the most innovative recordings in all of gospel music, including the irresistible "I've Got It." 


Recorded live and aided by the Willing Four Quartet, the Acme Missionary Baptist Church Choir, released his rare 45, "Lord, I Won't Turn Around," on the otherwise unknown Angel Joy Record label. 


Irene Jones and the Original Joy Harmonizers are one of many wonderful gospel groups that should be better known today - and their song "Keep on Going" is a good example of what that's so. 


The otherwise unknown Sunrise Gospel Singers of Chicago Heights deliver an affecting, emotional rendition of the gospel song, "When I'm Gone."


The piano stylings and arrangements of Roberta Martin influenced everybody from the Rev. James Cleveland to Little Lucy Smith and are on full display in her hit, "God is Still on the Throne."


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."

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