Baylor University in Waco, Texas, has announced that its Black Gospel Music Restoration Project will become a permanent feature of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.
The project involves the digitization of thousands of gospel music recordings that until now were only saved on 45 or 78 rpm vinyl records. The project has been the long-time work of Robert Darden, an associate professor of journalism, public relations, and new media at Baylor. His 2005 op-ed piece in The New York Times warning that much of Black Gospel history was in danger of being lost prompted the drive to preserve it for generations to come.
Professor Darden stated that “we wanted to begin the never-ending process of identifying, acquiring, digitizing and cataloguing gospel music’s fast-vanishing vinyl legacy. The second goal dream was to make this priceless, extraordinary music widely available.” When the new Smithsonian Museum open next’s year in Washington, the second goal will become a reality.
Professor Darden is the author of the book People Get Ready! A New History of Black Gospel Music (Bloomsbury Academic, 2005).