Gospel Roots of Rock and Soul is a four-part documentary series illustrating the influence of Black gospel on early rock and soul music. The series is hosted by award-winning gospel singer Cece Winans and produced by WXPN.
NHPR will present a special broadcast of this series, Monday Feb. 24 through Thursday Feb. 27. Each hour-long episode will air at 8 p.m in place of 1A:
Episode 1 - Monday, Feb. 24 at 8 p.m.
This hour begins and ends with Sam Cooke in 1955 singing in what would be one his last performances as agospel musician before crossing over to pop music. The hour examines the history and foundation of Blackgospel from spirituals and how those songs informed the gospel music of the great gospel quartets including The Dixie Hummingbirds, The Pilgrim Travelers, The Golden Gates, The Caravans, and The Soul Stirrers featuring Sam Cooke. The episode ends with the story of Sam Cooke’s ascent into the pop world.
Episode 2 - Tuesday, Feb. 25 at 8 p.m.
This hour examines how rock, soul and R&B grew out of the roots of Gospel. By the mid-20th century, gospelmusic was a force in America. It was capturing the attention of record companies and audiences across the nation. Sam Cooke’s emergence as a soul singer epitomized this moment. Sister Rosetta Tharpe defined what it meant to be a rock star and influenced some of the early rock and rollers. Chess Records’ singer Mitty Collier tasted the highs of the pop life before she became a Pastor and The Edwin Hawkins Singers solidified gospelmusic’s place alongside pop music with their mainstream hit song, “Oh Happy Day.”
Episode 3 - Wednesday, Feb. 26 at 8 p.m.
This hour tells the stories of Elvis Presley’s gospel music influences and how he brought gospel to White audiences, the role of gospel music in the civil rights movement with Mahalia Jackson and Mavis Staples, and the bridging of pop and gospel music with Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye.
Episode 4 - Thursday, Feb. 27 at 8 p.m.
This episode features music from Sam Cooke and The Soul Stirrers, Aretha Franklin, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Paul Simon, Ray Charles, Rance Allen, Al Green, Mahalia Jackson, The Golden Gate Quartet, The Swan Silvertones, and live performances from The Fairfeld Four, Dixie Hummingbirds, and The McCrary Sisters.