Sundays at Alma de Cuba are truly something special. Each week. the exquisite walls of one of Liverpool’s finest former churches are filled with the mesmerising sounds of gospel music.
Alma has been proudly showcasing gospel singers for over 10 years. Our Gospel Lunch bring audiences together to enjoy this incomparable musical genre.
So, before you join us, why not brush up on your knowledge as we share some fascinating facts about the history of gospel music?
When you see a gospel choir in action, it’s no surprise that gospel actually means ‘good news’. The feel-good, uplifting genre of music is deeply rooted in the African-American church.
In the 1800s, African-American churches across the southern states of America introduced a range of musical styles into their services. This included a variety of African-American hymns, spirituals and sacred songs.
Volunteers from the congregation would form the church choir, performing in choir robes. Singing was accompanied by rhythmic movements. Most notably, hand-clapping and foot-stomping alongside the music.
Widely known as the ‘Father of Gospel Music’, traditional gospel music evolved with the influence of Thomas A. Dorsey. The former jazz pianist and composer started work in Chicago for Pilgrim Baptist Church in the 1930s.
It was here that Dorsey first showcased a fusion of blues, jazz and traditional gospel; this was the start of gospel blues. Despite the exciting new sound, it wasn’t until the late 1930s that communities really warmed to and accepted gospel blues as the new tradition.
Gospel music played an integral role in the Civil Rights Movement. Alongside folk and spirituals, the moving, soulful sounds of gospel helped to unite those in search of social justice.
Motivational gospel songs were performed for long protest marches to keep spirits high. The music was also treasured by individuals, offering personal strength in the face of adversity.
Activists would come together to learn the songs of the movement for every occasion. Some were kept for moments of sadness. Others were there for celebration and joy.
During the civil rights era, Mahalia Jackson, known as the Queen of Gospel, was largely responsible for bringing gospel from the insides of the church and out to the masses.
Martin Luther King Jr. frequently relied on his friend for inspiration. During times of low spirits or discouragement, Mahalia would sing the sounds of gospel down the telephone.
Mahalia was also known to perform and accompany the civil rights leader for some of the most hostile demonstrations. When it came to the day of the world-famous ‘I have a Dream’ speech, the Queen of Gospel certainly played a part.
Martin Luther King Jr. had been struggling to decide on the execution of his speech. And it was Mahalia’s demand to ‘tell them about the dream!” that shaped the delivery of his iconic words.
It may be surprising to hear that the only Grammy Awards Elvis ever took home were for his gospel music. The iconic King of Rock ‘n’ Roll never left behind the gospel influence of his childhood.
Elvis was born and raised in Tupelo, Mississippi. It was here that a young Presley attended church, and developed a deep appreciation for gospel music.
Gladys Presley was known to tell stories of her son running down to the front of the church and imitating the choir’s voices and movements.
This year marked a moment of history for gospel music – The Royal wedding saw viewers across the globe swept away by the soulful sounds of gospel.
Conductor Karen Gibson and the mesmerising Kingdom Choir were invited to perform for the momentous occasion by Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex.
Since the special day, the choir’s heartwarming rendition of Stand By Me has since been streamed over 100,000 times on Spotify and accumulated over 3 million YouTube views.
“I think it’s a huge platform for gospel music, which I would say has been really underground for many years in England.” Gibson shared.
So, why not join us for an unforgettable Gospel Lunch at Alma de Cuba?
Each Sunday, we offer an indulgent roast dinner served to the stunning sounds of our live Gospel Choir.
We look forward to seeing you soon! To book your table, you can reach our friendly team on 0151 305 3744.