Without gospel music there never would have been an Elvis Presley. There never would have been a Ray Charles, or a James Brown. From the mid-twentieth century on, gospel music not only thrived within a separate sphere as vital as the jazz, rock and rhythm and blues worlds; it also constantly intersected with the secular music industry, providing models that countless artists outside the church emulated. GOSPEL ROOTS OF ROCK AND SOUL, a four part series from WXPN and NPRMUSIC, explores these connections as a way of reinstituting gospel's central place within the history of American popular music. The series is hosted by GRAMMY award-winning gospel singer CeCe Winans. It airs Sunday Mornings at 10AM on Different Radio, WRUR 88.5 FM Rochester and WITH 90.1 FM Ithaca.
Through in-depth interviews with artists and dozens of songs (including many archival selections), the four-hour documentary illuminates the profound impact that gospel music has made on popular music. It is the culmination of WXPN’s year-long project of the same name, that featured prominent gospel and contemporary music artists, historians, and experts contributing their research and insights to a media-rich website (xpngospelroots.org), and a series of sold-out gospel music concerts, film screenings, and panel discussions. The project and radio documentary are supported by a grant from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.