Various Artists

20th Century Masters: Best of Gospel, Vol. 2

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Gospel is music of deliverance, freedom, and redemption, with deep roots in the Southern spirituals that Afro-Americans sang during the slave era as a form of temporary release from lives filled with hardship and cruelty. Its original call-and-response settings, melismatic lead singing, and polyrhythmic handclapping helped set the stage for Southern soul (which is essentially secular gospel), funk, disco, and much of contemporary R&B. This second volume of modern gospel in Universal's 20th Century Masters series shows some of that diversity, featuring up-tempo church romps (the Soul Stirrers' "Amen"), sanctified soul (Al Green's "I Get Joy"), jazz and hip-hop inflections (Sounds of Blackness' "I Believe"), blues-rock (Inez Andrews' "Lord, Don't Move the Mountain"), and soul and blues combined (Mavis Staples' "Wade in the Water," with assistance from Lucky Peterson). At a little over 45 minutes in length, this set is substantial enough to be a decent introduction to modern gospel, but obviously there is a whole lot more to the story.

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