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By the close of the 19th century, a professional cast of black musicians had begun to make their mark on mainstream American music! Their song in sharp contrast to the heavenly hymnody of the spirituals. In addition, the blues quickly came to signify all the varieties of sin and suffering to which the flesh is heir. Blues singers became a different kind of priestly figure for the community, sanctifying the secular and taking as their blessed sacraments of whisky and women, high living and hard times!
Yet, for all the appeal of the blues, sacred music, especially gospel still held a powerful place in black consciousness! The term gospel music was coined in 1875 by hymn writer Ira Sankey, but its emergence in the 1930s as a lucrative form of church music is commonly attributed to one man: Thomas Dorsey, the Father of Gospel Music!