Some big news regarding the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project was made official this weekend via the social media of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC): the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project (BGMRP), managed and maintained by our own Digital Projects Group, will become part of the permanent collection when the museum opens its doors in 2015!
According to the story from the NMAAHC’s Tumblr, we will contribute highlights from the collection for incorporation into an exhibition called the Musical Crossroads. From the Tumblr:
This permanent exhibition will tell the story of African American music from the arrival of the first Africans to the present day.
Both [NMAAHC curator Dr. Dwandalyn] Reece and [Baylor journalism professor Robert] Darden see these recordings as important additions to the new museum for the stories they can help tell. While planning for the exhibition is ongoing, the Baylor recordings may be used to explore the importance of gospel music to the civil rights movement.
Featuring select recordings from Baylor’s growing digital collection in the Smithsonian will give visitors an opportunity to learn these stories and to listen to many gospel recordings that may otherwise have been lost to history.
Dr. Reece also pointed out the ways is in which materials from the BGMRP can help us better understand the impact of black gospel music at a regional level:
The recordings may also be used to highlight the regional diversity of early gospel music. “Not all gospel recordings made during the pinnacle of gospel’s popularity were made on major labels,” Reece explained. “Many were done in connection with local churches and there are differences in style based on where these types of recordings were made.”
The project was sparked in 2005 by an op-ed piece written by Prof. Darden for the February 15 edition. In it, he bemoaned the loss of America’s recorded collections of black gospel music. That appeal generated a lead gift from collector Charles M. Royce that funded equipment and the first audiovisual specialist, Tony Tadey. From there, Prof. Darden’s tireless promotion combined with the technological and information handling mastery of the DPG to create a collection of more than 8,000 digitized tracks, 1,200 of which are available online with more added regularly. (For more on the history of the project, please visit the project website.)
We are obviously quite excited to be partnering with an institution with such an august reputation and world-wide name recognition as the Smithsonian Institution, and we look forward to working closely with Dr. Reece and her team at the NMAAHC in the coming months.
The Digital Projects Group is a part of the Electronic Library, a special collection within the Baylor University Libraries. DPG staff involved with the BGMRP are Assistant Director for Digital Projects Group, Darryl Stuhr; Audiovisual Specialist, Stephen Bolech; Digital Collections Curator, Eric Ames; and Digitization Coordinator, Allyson Riley.
For More Information
Read the NMAAHC’s Tumblr post
Read our previous blog post about the partnership
Visit the BGMRP homepage
View the BGMRP collection via the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections
Visit the NMAAHC website
Email us at digitalcollectionsinfo[at]baylor.edu