Classic African American Gospel from Smithsonian Folkways
by Various Artists
Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
Though modern music fans perceive a wall between secular and gospel music, it wasn't always this way. This Smithsonian Folksways comp, curated by ethnomusicologist Kip Lornell, largely draws from black gospel's glory years from the '40s to the early '60s, when these doo-wop hymns and bluesy dirges were considered pop music in African American communities. Many are a cappella (instrumentation in gospel music was considered inappropriate), and a few inject real pathos into their divine praise. You don't have to love Jesus to consider this collection a treasure.