Preserving America’s Black Gospel Heritage

On February 19th, 2009, Bob Marovich, Amanda Harlan, and Tony Tadey represented Baylor University’s Black Gospel Music Restoration Project at the Music Library Association Annual Conference in Chicago. Bob Marovich (gospel historian) presented on gospel music in Chicago during the Golden Age of Gospel (1940s-1970s) and how the project at Baylor University is so important from a private collector’s standpoint. Amanda Harlan (metadata & catalog librarian) presented on the history of how this project got started, what metadata standards are being used, how to describe an album once digitized, and other technical procedures involving metadata transformation for the gospel project. Tony Tadey (audio specialist) presented on the creation of the digitization workflow for audio and image files using student workers, the basics of what type of equipment and software is being used for audio digitization, and what standards are being followed in terms of audio digitization. Below is a link to our PowerPoint. We would love to hear any feedback or comments anyone has concerning the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project here at Baylor University.

Link to presentation: Preserving America’s Black Gospel Heritage

I think we all have our ministries, but gospel music is such a compelling ministry, because souls don’t come in cultures — Lea Gilmore


Engineer’s Update for 6-19-2008

We are well into lot 34, a lot which contains 50 7-inch discs.  Most of the collection seems to be of 45s from the Chicago area and the greater mid-west. So far, for me some of the highlights include recordings by the Wind City Four and The Flying Clouds.
Please stay tuned for further updates.

Access to the Sound Files

The question we receive the most from people interested in this project is related to information on how they can listen to or obtain copies of these recordings. Unfortunately, the material we are collecting was produced between 1940 and 1970, and all of this material is most likely protected by copyright.

We have made some attempts to identify the copyright holders, but there are several issues that impede this process:

  • Music produced prior to 1970 was copyrighted at the state level, not the national level, and the copyright laws (and expiration of copyright) varied from state to state.
  • Many of these recordings were produced by small, little-known producers. At some point in time, these producers went out of business and disappeared or were bought by larger recording labels.
  • Some recordings were produced live at radio stations, some were produced at local churches or entities that may or may not still exist today.

Because of these copyright issues, we have determined that in an open environment we can provide detailed information that describes the recordings and 30-second sound bites of the music (using streaming technology). However, the full sound recordings will only be made available to researchers who are physically present at Baylor University.

The Black Gospel Music Restoration Project is purely a non-profit, preservation, and scholarly-oriented project. We want to preserve this music for the long term while adhering to and respecting the copyright of the individuals who produced this music. –brp

The First Engineer’s Update on the BGMRP (3/20/2008)


I finished up the Preservation transfer of our lot 27 this morning. Lot 27 contains 52 items, mostly LPs. One of the highlights of the Lot is an item which is signed by 4 members of the Staple Singers. We plan to finish up scanning this collection next week.

Up next is Lot 28, a small collection of 7-inch discs.

Thanks for checking in on us!