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  • Premiered: 
    February 12, 2024
    (Click date to see TV listings for that day)

  • Network: PBS
  • Category: Series
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Type: Live Action
  • Concept: 
  • Subject Matter: Musical
  • Tags:

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Plot Synopsis

Directed by Stacey L. Holman and Shayla Harris, GOSPEL is a four-part documentary that explores the rich history of Black spirituality through sermon and song from executive producer, host, and writer Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. In this series, Gates speaks with dozens of clergymen, singers and scholars about their connection to the music that has transcended its origins and now spreads "the good word" all around the world. GOSPEL features interviews with notable names including Dionne Warwick, U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock, Rev. Otis Moss III, professor Michael Eric Dyson, and awe-inspiring musical performances of Gospel favorites "Can't Nobody Do Me Like Jesus," "Total Praise," and others from talents including The Belle Singers, Cory Henry, Celisse, and more. Throughout its four hours, GOSPEL gives a look at the history of Black religious music and preaching, showcasing the symbiotic relationship of words and song present in any Black church. The series examines the origin of Black gospel music, which blended the sacred spirituals with the blues tradition and soared to new heights during the Great Migration. This music served as an outlet for the anger and frustration of living as a Black person in America, which remains true today. The series also explores the evolution of preaching styles over time, and the impact of class, gender, cultural innovations and consumer technologies shaped the development of gospel since its conception.

Stacey L. Holman and Shayla Harris, the series producers and directors, said, "It was such an honor to reunite with the incredible team that produced THE BLACK CHURCH on another powerful examination of Black spiritual expression for PBS. For centuries, the sacred sounds of gospel music and Black preaching have testified to God's goodness and grace while embracing the rhythms and riffs of blues, jazz and hip-hop. They were the way that African Americans found their voice and their power in a strange land and have resonated far beyond the church's walls. By weaving intimate interviews with dynamic live gospel performances throughout the series, we want our viewers to fully experience and be energized by this uniquely African American art form of prayer, praise and promise."

Episodes include:

"The Gospel Train" (Monday, February 12, 2024 at 9pm): GOSPEL's Hour 1 takes viewers north to Chicago, where southern migrants Thomas A. Dorsey, Mahalia Jackson and Sister Rosetta Tharpe fused blues and jazz with testimonies of God's goodness to create a genre enduring for generations.

"The Golden Age of Gospel" (Monday, February 12, 2024 at 10pm): Starting in the 40s, GOSPEL's Hour 2 explores the Golden Age of Gospel -- the dramatic explosion of Black sacred music and the segregated highways of the American South -- which took the Lord's music into the mainstream.

"Take the Message Everywhere" (Tuesday, February 13, 2024 at 9pm): In GOSPEL's Hour 3, gospel family dynasties dominate the charts while other children of the church use their musical prowess to influence soul music. Black pastors also distinguish their sound with prophetic voices and sermonettes.

"Gospel's Second Century" (Tuesday, February 13, 2024 at 10pm): Gospel's Platinum Age reflected a new generation embracing secular rhythms to modernize the gospel sound. GOSPEL's Hour 4 explores the movement that brought songs about faith to millions at clubs, on cable TV and on urban radio.

Production & Distribution

  • Co-produced by McGee Media
  • Produced by Inkwell Films (as Inkwell Media)
  • Produced by WETA