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Close Harmony: A History of Southern Gospel [Paperback]

By James R. Goff (Author)
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Item description for Close Harmony: A History of Southern Gospel by James R. Goff...

Comprehensive and richly illustrated, this book traces the development of the music known as southern gospel from its origins in nineteenth-centure-shape-note singing to its emergence as a vibrant musical industry driven by the world of radio, television, recordings, and concert promotions. Marked by smooth, tight harmonies and a lyrical focus on the message of Christian salvation--particularly the white gospel quartet tradition--had its roots in the late nineteenth century, when a number of music publishers issued popular hymnbooks. These publishers were instrumental in the rapid spread of schools and singers devoted to lively, easily sung songs designed for "Christian entertainment" rather than for use in formal church settings. With Christian music sales topping hte $600 million mark at the close of the twentieth century, this book explores the history of an important and influential segment of the thriing gospel.

Publishers Description
Comprehensive and richly illustrated, "Close Harmony" traces the development of the music known as southern gospel from its antebellum origins to its twentieth-century emergence as a vibrant musical industry driven by the world of radio, television, recordings, and concert promotions.
Marked by smooth, tight harmonies and a lyrical focus on the message of Christian salvation, southern gospel--particularly the white gospel quartet tradition--had its roots in nineteenth-century shape-note singing. The spread of white gospel music is intricately connected to the people who based their livelihoods on it, and Close Harmony is filled with the stories of artists and groups such as Frank Stamps, the Chuck Wagon Gang, the Blackwood Brothers, the Rangers, the Swanee River Boys, the Statesmen, and the Oak Ridge Boys. The book also explores changing relations between black and white artists and shows how, following the civil rights movement, white gospel was influenced by black gospel, bluegrass, rock, metal, and, later, rap.
With Christian music sales topping the $600 million mark at the close of the twentieth century, "Close Harmony" explores the history of an important and influential segment of the thriving gospel industry.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Close Harmony: A History of Southern Gospel by James R. Goff has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Library Journal - 03/15/2002 page 83

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Item Specifications...

Studio: The University of North Carolina Press
Pages   394
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.99" Width: 6.11" Height: 0.97"
Weight:   1.2 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 25, 2002
Publisher   The University of North Carolina Press
Edition  New  
ISBN  0807853461  
ISBN13  9780807853467  

Availability  128 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 19, 2017 07:04.
Usually ships within one to two business days from La Vergne, TN.
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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Music > General
2Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Music > History & Criticism
3Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Music > Musical Genres > Religious & Sacred Music > General
4Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Music > Musical Genres > Religious & Sacred Music > Gospel
5Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > General
6Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > State & Local
7Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Anthropology > Cultural

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Reviews - What do customers think about Close Harmony: A History of Southern Gospel?

Reviewing Close Harmony  Mar 13, 2007
This is an excellent book. I can not praise it enough. Only the writer knows how many hours of research went into the making of this book. It is not only a book that tells the story of southern gospel music, it is written in such a way that it is the history book of southern gospel shape note music. I doubt that there will ever be another book that will preserve gospel heratage as much as "Close Harmony".
It's About The Music and the Message  Sep 1, 2004
There's a story I like to tell about myself sometimes when I'm at a concert. It just kind of let's people know that Southern Gospel Music and I go way back. I was probably four or five years old at the time, and we were taking one of our usual Sunday afternoon trips to my grandmother's house. It was a roughly two hour drive from Pensacola to Graceville, though to a four or five year old, it seemed more like ten hours. I had my nose pressed to the glass of my window when a bus passed us on my side of the car. I read the name printed on the side of the bus, then turned to my father in the front seat and inquired, "Dad, who is the Greyhound Quartet, and do we have any of their albums."

Obviously, I grew up with Southern Gospel Music. The first, and until I started school, the only busses I knew were quartet busses. I spent many wonderful and memorable hours at places like the Bonifay All-Night Singing in Bonifay, Florida. You can always count on rain, usually lots of it, at Bonifay. I'll never forget seeing umbrellas sprouting up like flowers across the arena there as the rain passed over. The singers kept right on singing, and the fans kept right on listening. I remember being very pleased with myself the night I got to walk all by myself from the hotel to the Civic Center, just a couple of blocks away mind you, in Nashville, TN for the National Quartet Convention.

In short, Southern Gospel Music is an important part of my life and history. I tell you all of that to tell you this. Only that kind of person, a person who grew up with Southern Gospel music, a person to whom Southern Gospel is an integral part of who they are, has any hope of writing on the subject of Southern Gospel with honesty and authority. Fortunately for all of us, Dr. James Goff, Jr. is that kind of person, and in Close Harmony: A History of Southern Gospel, he has given us the first balanced and comprehensive history of Southern Gospel Music.

As Goff rightly points out, the story of Southern Gospel cannot be separated from the story of Christianity, so he begins by examining the great religious movements-the great awakenings & revivals, the rise of Evangelicalism, and the holiness and pentecostal movements-in which Southern Gospel Music finds its roots. Musically, Southern Gospel is rooted in the shape note singing traditions if the 19th century, and Goff provides a wonderfully detailed account of the people, the songbooks, and the singing schools that arose in those traditions. With the foundations firmly laid, Goff moves on to talk about James D. Vaughan, shape note songbook publisher and the father or Southern Gospel Music. Vaughan was the first to put a professional quartet on the road to sell his songbooks, and many music publishers soon followed his lead. Though the quartets originally began as employees of the music publishers, as the music publishers declined, the quartets became more independent and the Southern Gospel Music industry as we know it today was born. Radio played a large part in the early growth of Southern Gospel music, as television did later. As Goff notes, thought ministry was always a part of Southern Gospel Music, the entertainment aspect was emphasized more in the early days, and he chronicles the industry's shift to being more ministry oriented in the 60s and 70s. Close Harmony closes with a look at how Southern Gospel Music's fortunes rose with the rise of conservative Christianity in the 80's, and a look at where Southern Gospel went in the 90's, and where it will be going in the new millennium.

This book is truly remarkable for a number of reasons. Foremost, Goff manages to strike a perfect balance among his roles as historian, teacher, and Southern Gospel Music fan. As historian, he has done an incredible amount of painstaking research and analysis. Having been priveledged to take two of Goff's history courses myself, I have firsthand experience with his ability to take what, in less competent hands, could become nothing more that a boring litany names, dates, facts, and figures, and weave a story and give it life. And that he has done with the story of Southern Gospel in this book. But probably most importantly, Goff is a Southern Gospel fan, and his passion for and love of the music and the people who create it permeates every page of Close Harmony. Southern Gospel is a reflection of his and our deepest spritiual beliefs. As he eloquently puts it, "It's about the music and the Message. It always has been."
A Frustrated Reader from Jersey  Jul 6, 2003
One assumes that Goff intended this travesty of a book to provide a history of white gospel singing. But, while constantly referring to white and black gospel as distinctive forms, he never establishes exactly what the differences are. He instead pelts readers with a flurry of boring mini-biographies and social-conservative propaganda. The reader gets a strong sense that Goff disapproves of atheists, homosexuality and abortion, but if the book was supposed to give a definitive account of a musical tradition, it fails.
Long needed study of Southern Gospel  Mar 12, 2003
In this important work, Goff traces the history of Southern Gospel music, the religious music of the Southern plain folk. Building on folk church singing forms, Southern Gospel began in earnest with the quartets sent out to publize songbooks issued by companies such as Stamps and Vaughn. Out of these quartets came such revolutionary groups as the Blackwood Brothers and the Statesmen. Goff continues the history up to the current era, looking at the development of the field and its popularity. Southern Gospel has largely been ignored by scholars so this book fills a deep gap in the literature. As an overview, some performers undoubtedly were left out, but that is a minor quibble. Some topics, such as the interrelationship of Southern gospel and Country music, need further discussion. A new area of research has been opened and with Goff as a guide, let us hope it quickly develops.
A rich history of the genre's evolution  Jun 6, 2002
Any fan of Southern gospel music would do well to choose Close Harmony as a guide: author James Goff provides a rich history of the genre's evolution from its originals in 19th century shape-note singing to its emergence as a distinct style in a changing music industry. White and black gospel music trends are explored in the course of this title's solid coverage.

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