Baylor University Is Preserving the Recordings of the Golden Age of Black Gospel

The Black Gospel Music Restoration Project team at Baylor Libraries has been selected to receive the 2018 Excellence in Digital Libraries Award from the Texas Digital Library for their work in making accessible the creative output of hundreds of Black gospel artists.

During the Golden Age of Black Gospel from 1945 to 1975, African American performers moved from town-to-town to raise money to live daily, and then moved on to the next church. Along their journey, they found time to record their unique renditions and compositions. These recordings – containing valuable history and culture – are rapidly disappearing. The Baylor University project seeks to preserve as many as these recording as possible in digital format.

The Black Gospel Music Restoration Project has digitized and provided access to more than 3,000 unique digital items in multiple formats, including recordings, posters and photographs. The collection, developed over 11 years, may be accessed for research about musical styles, lyrical analysis and performance practice, as well as for outreach opportunities, such as concerts, art exhibits and symposia.

Eric Ames, outreach liaison for the project at Baylor University, stated that “this award is a major acknowledgement of the importance of the digital components of the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project. The materials themselves tell the story of America’s Black gospel heritage, but it’s the work of our Digital Preservation Services team to digitize, preserve, describe and provide access to the collection that is making it available to the world.”

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