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Beyond BlackfaceAfrican Americans and the Creation of American Popular Culture, 1890-1930$
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W. Fitzhugh Brundage

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780807834626

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807878026_brundage

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Buying and Selling with God

Buying and Selling with God

African American Religion, Race Records, and the Emerging Culture of Mass Consumption in the South

(p.190) Buying and Selling with God
Beyond Blackface

John M. Giggie

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter focuses on Rev. J. M. Gates of Atlanta, one of the most famous of the scores of black southern preachers who recorded chanted sermons during their heyday of popularity, from the early 1920s until World War II. He, along with Rev. F. W. McGee and Rev. A. W. Nix, cut hundreds of seventy-eights that captured a preaching style common in southern congregations and marketed them through their religious communities. All of the major recording studios of the day, including Vocalion, Victor, Bluebird, Okeh, and Gennet, tripped over themselves to sign these preachers in the hope that at least one of their records would sell. Many of them did, giving commercial voice to a particular form of black oral tradition and creating a recreational commodity of great interest to black southerners and particularly southern migrants to the urban centers of the Midwest and North, who loved to listen to the sounds of a religious world left behind.

Keywords:   J. M. Gates, black southern preachers, chanted sermons, World War II, F. W. McGee, A. W. Nix

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