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.

Some gospel artist never received the acclaim their talents deserved. One such artist is singer, composer and choir leader Lloyd C. Russell, who released several excellent LPs for Savoy's Gospel line in the 1960s and '70s, including this one - Until We Meet Again. 


Like the best of the thousands of self-pressed LPs by African American churches across the country, Hello Sunshine by the Mt. Tabor Missionary Baptist Church is a joyous gospel romp - lacking in studio polish, but more than making up for it with spirited singing and playing. 


The Crowns of Glory cover Bill Wither's "Ain't No Sunshine" hit and turn it into an apocalyptic tour-de-force. 


The legendary Sallie Martin and Thomas Dorsey reunited in 1973 to record a version of Dorsey's classic "I'll Tell It Wherever I Go."


Chicago legend, the Rev. Issac Whittmon leads the Greater Metropolitan COGIC choir on a rafter-raising gospel stomper.

Full length audio here

Doris Watson and the Testimonial Echoes deliver a slow and soulful rendition of “God is Blessing You.”

Full length audio here

"Jesus is Everywhere" by the Victorious Glory Landers is doo-wop heaven! 


"Mother Church" Kennerly Temple's choir has been making great gospel music for a very long time.


"His Love Bubbles Over in My Soul" by the previous unknown Ruth Beck Singers will make you smile all day.

For decades, the Windy City Four have popularized the glorious jubilee-styled harmonies of Gospel's Golden Age.

The Original Blind Boys of Mississippi's Archie Brownlee was the greatest soulful shouter gospel music ever produced.

"His Love Flows Through Me Like a River" is the legendary Paul Leka's attempt to create a gospel-inflected classic.

The Light of the World Choir's self-produced LP features one great song - "Set Your Affection on Things Above"

Bonita Cantrell was one of hundreds of sweet-voiced gospel artists who were released by the quirky Nashboro label

The too-short life of gospel legend Lula Collins left us a legacy of hard-rockin', sanctified gospel music.

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