Blues  •  Country Blues

Pre-War Gospel Blues

Prewar Gospel Blues is gospel blues recorded prior to World War II. There has always been a point, both stylistically and philosophically, where the sacred (gospel music) and the profane (blues, the devil's music) have had an uneasy alliance, and this genre strain is it. Consisting almost entirely of performers who are lay preachers or streetcorner evangelists, their use of blues guitar patterns are tightly interwoven to the most heartfelt statements of religious conviction. Embracing everything from ragtime fingerpicking and knife-edged slide techniques to crudely strummed rhythm patterns, the style owes less allegiance to a particular style of guitar than to using the instrument's possibilities to propel its lyrical message. Though its proponents are few, there are few sounds in the blues that are as alternately spiritual or as bone-chilling as gospel blues music.