WXPN kicks off its Center-supported year-long project, Gospel Roots of Rock & Soul, with a screening of the 2017 documentary film How They Got Over about the upbeat musical form that started out as gospel quartet music and became rock and roll. Remarks from the film’s director, Robert Clem, and producer Jerry Zolten, will precede the screening. The feature-length film features classic performance footage and artist interviews that showcase the spirit of gospel music, and documents the ways in which it helped usher in a musical revolution that changed the world.
Through live performances, a radio documentary series, and a media-rich website, Gospel Roots of Rock & Soul explores the roots of gospel and its influence on secular popular music. Gospel’s stylistic elements have long been fused into secular popular musical genres, such as rock and roll, R&B, soul, and hip-hop. Featured artists include the iconic gospel quartet Dixie Hummingbirds, the contemporary R&B and soul-influenced McCrary Sisters, the 18-voice a cappella ensemble the Fisk Jubilee Singers, and the St. Thomas Gospel Choir of the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas.