Gospel Music in Hispanic & European Cultures
When most Americans think of gospel music, immediately thoughts are turned to the bright, jubilant southern Baptist churches filled with lots of “Hallelujahs!” and dancing. This can be very different from what we find in other cultures. Because gospel originated in the United States, influences can be heard throughout all other subgenres. The songs always revolve around Christian themes, and rely on symbols and subjects from biblical scripture, but all have their own perspectives.
Spanish language gospel and Christian music ranges from the traditions of Spain, to Mexico, Cuba, and even the different Hispanic cultures here in the Americas. Each with their own sounds, styles, and colloquialisms, these cultures add so much to this genre of music that a lot of us only know a little about. (Kwintessential.co.uk)
Gospel in Hispanic cultures uses a lot of similar rhythms and sounds that you would find in most other Spanish-language music. Bachata, Salsa, and Merengue dance rhythms can all be found throughout this music. Strong beats, classical guitar, and intricate drumming are among the sounds you will hear when listening to Spanish gospel. The following video El Todo Poderoso by Puchi Colon is a great illustration of this.
Because of the growth of this sub-genre in recent years, it is much more readily available in the United States (kwintessential). Artists like Abraham Ramirez, Javier Trejo Gonzalez, and Arturo Lopez Osorio are among some of the popular artists from Mexico. (gospelmusicmexico.com)
We also see an interesting difference in gospel music genres in other European cultures. The tradition with a lot of other European cultures lies in hymns. Choirs sing together accompanied by an organ or piano. As music has changed through the years, gospel in these cultures has changed and grown as well. We see Christian rock influences in a lot of British gospel, and an acceptance of African-American gospel in the Netherlands. With the growing availability of communication and resources, this genre has been able to rapidly grow and expand through these cultures adding influences from countless other sources.
World War II brought a lot of American music to Germany from the soldiers who were stationed and fighting there. From this, the interest in African-Amercian jazz music led to their discovery of gospel. The subgenre of Christian Rock was later introduced, and is now expanding quickly through Germany. This has helped to decrease the cultural gap between the youth and church. (Bubmann) The addition of styles of gospel that relate to different age groups is yet another factor that has helped this genre grow so much in the past 20 years.
Gospel within England takes on a form very similar to what we find here in the U.S. Choirs backed by bands, with a blending of styles from popular music and hip-hop are commonplace. As seen in this video, Panache - Transformed.
What I find personally fascinating is the way that music transcends religion, ethnicity, language barriers, and age. It is something that has the ability to connect all of us. Although we all might not believe in Christianity, we can all find some common ground through the music produced in this religious context.
By: Morgan Hammel