Â Master, The Tempest Is Raging
An analysis of gays in gospel
by: Dr. Sylvia Rhue
NBJC Director of Religious Affairs
Thomas Dorsey invented gospel music in the 1920's. Anyone who has been moved to tears, found God, renewed their spirit, or clapped and swayed to the beauty and power of gospel (meaning "good news"), owes a debt to the musical genius of Dorsey.
Gospel music emerged from a tenuous infancy (many found it to be too worldly) to a fully grown rhapsodized force through the work another genius in the 60's. That man was the Reverend James Cleveland, the King of Gospel.
The late Rev. James Cleveland
Rev. Cleveland founded the Gospel Music Workshop where his music â€œmesmerized his audience and brought a standard of excellence to gospel music in general through his organization in 1968 of the Gospel Music Workshop of America, the largest gospel convention in the world.â€Â Â
I was there in the early days of the Gospel Music Workshop where I remember that Rev. Cleveland had to admonish the men to tone down the flamboyance.
He knew that this fledgling new movement for gospel music would have its wings clipped and ground into the ground by the fierce viciousness of homophobia in the black church.
I went Cleveland's Cornerstone Institutional Baptist Church in Los Angeles on at least one occasion and yes there were screaming queens there and the mothers of the church loved them.The director of the choir I sang with cut an album with Rev. Cleveland. I remember the jokes and the tittering among the choir members when the director was to be in the studio with Rev. Cleveland. Homophobia kept Rev. James Cleveland in the closet.
Rev. Cleveland's church is where Aretha Franklin recorded her seminal work "Amazing Grace", probably the greatest gospel album ever produced. Â Singing with a choir full of queens didn't bother the Queen of Soul.