“Gospel Roots of Rock and Soul” will be broadcast by US public radio stations during Black History Month (February), including WXPN and WRTI
PHILADELPHIA (JANUARY 15, 2019) : A new radio documentary that explores the history of black gospel
music and illustrates its significant influence on the formation of rock and soul music will be broadcast
by US radio stations in February, during Black History Month.
Hosted by GRAMMY award-winning gospel singer CeCe Winans, Gospel Roots of Rock and Soul is
produced by Philadelphia public radio station WXPN and distributed by NPR. 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.
The Gospel Roots of Rock and Soul documentary 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 ), in addition to 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 .
“The project demonstrated the enormous role that black gospel music played in the birth of rock and roll,
and its continuing influence on popular music genres, including soul and R&B,” said Co-Executive
Producer and WXPN Assistant Station Manager for Programming Bruce Warren. “The radio documentary
explores these connections as a way of reinstituting gospel's central place within the history of American
Host CeCe Winans said, “Gospel music’s influence on early R&B, soul, and rock and roll is significant, and
the stories we tell and share in the documentary wonderfully illustrate that. It was a pleasure working on
the documentary - there is so much richness, detail and respect for the history that went into the making
of it. As a gospel musician myself, it’s important for music fans and listeners to learn how much gospel
music serves as the foundation for so many other music genres.”
The Gospel Roots of Rock and Soul documentary consists of four one-hour segments, and starts with the
history and foundation of black gospel from spirituals, and how those songs informed the music of the
great gospel quartets. In examining how rock, soul and R&B grew from the roots of gospel, it highlights
such highly influential artists as Sam Cooke, who transitioned from gospel to secular music; Sister
Rosetta Tharpe and her early rock stylings; and Elvis Presley, who helped expose white audiences to
gospel music. Examples of some of the most beloved contemporary pop music of the last 60 years from
artists such as Aretha Franklin, Paul Simon, and Ray Charles illustrate gospel music’s influence. Gospel
Roots of Rock and Soul also features exclusive live performances recorded by WXPN within the last year
from gospel groups The Fairfield Four, The McCrary Sisters, and The Dixie Hummingbirds.
In Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Lancaster, York, North Jersey and the Poconos, Gospel Roots of Rock and
Soul will be broadcast by WXPN 88.5 FM in four parts, on February 4, 5, 6 and 7 (at 8 pm ET). It will also
be broadcast by WRTI 90.1 FM to Philadelphia listeners in four parts, on February 10, 17, 24 and March 3
(at 8:00 am ET).
Other radio stations and markets where Gospel Roots of Rock and Soul can be heard during February
include KALW (San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose), KUNC and the Colorado Sound (Denver), WMFE
(Orlando), WEAA (Baltimore), and WKNO (Memphis), among others, while numerous radio stations will
broadcast it at other times. It will also air during the World Cafe music program (produced by WXPN and
distributed nationwide by NPR) during the first week of March.
Executive producers of Gospel Roots of Rock and Soul are Bruce Warren, who also is Executive Producer
of World Cafe , and WXPN General Manager Roger LaMay. It is produced by Alex Lewis, an award-winning
independent radio producer and musician whose projects include Going Black: The Legacy of Philly Soul
Radio, among others.
For more information about Gospel Roots of Rock and Soul , visit http://xpngospelroots.org.
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