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.

As you might imagine, Washington D.C. is and has been home to some great gospel talent. One group you might not know is the Southern Gospel Singers of Washington D.C. 


The great hymn of the church, "How Great Thou Art," gets the half preached, half sung treatment by Sammie Graham and the Gospel Revelators


You've never heard a rendition of "Just a Closer Walk with Thee" like this one by Juliet Powell and the Combine Choir of Chicago. 


You've never heard a rendition of "Just a Closer Walk with Thee" like this one by Juliet Powell and the Combine Choir of Chicago. 


The Might Wonders of Aquasco, Maryland lend their melodious voices to a lovely rendition of the old labor movement song, "I Shall Not be Moved"


The legendary O'Neal Twins were gospel traditionalists,  always preferring to sing in the classic old-time gospel music style. 


A little known gem from the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project is a bright and sassy 45 by the C&H Community Singers and produced by Mr. Henry Rush Jr. 


Inez Andrews was one of the last of the legends of gospel music's golden age when she passed at 83 in 2012.


Sometimes, searching for information on many of the songs in the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project is like putting together a 1,000 piece puzzle with the blank side up. take for instance the wonderfully charming "His First Miracle" by the Jubilee Stars on Class Records


Not surprisingly, a number of well-known musicians came from First Church of Deliverance but it has always been the choirs that have drawn the most attention. 


Gospel music has produced some of the greatest shouters ever. A true gospel shout in an inarticulate explosion of joy or pain or indignation. 


The Birmingham-Bessemer area has long been one of the great and fertile hot-beds of gospel music.  


Hundreds?  Thousands?  No one knows how many small and independent gospel labels there are - but they they have some of the greatest names of all time.


When an electric guitar was added, you'd think all of the Ten Commandments were  broken at once.  


Noted gospel music historian Dr. Mellonee Burning said that if gospel music is to flourish for another 100 years, it's all up to the African American church choirs, especially the youth choirs.  


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