Saturday, 15 June 2013

Black Gospel Music Phenomenal Growth from 1996 to 1997 Part 1

Prior 1996, industry growth in gospel music industry was estimated at $381 million in 1995.
From 1996 to 1997 the gospel music industry in America experienced a 41% growth compared to 1994 and 1995 when other music industry sectors such as Rock and Pop were experiencing periods of no growth and low sales with the closing of many music divisions across the industry while at the same time the gospel sector generated over half billion dollars in revenue which prompted the big six major records companies at the time to purchase several gospel labels for bigger market shares and revenue.

One of first major black solo artist to experience gold certification during the phenomenal growth of 1996 to 1997 was Donnie McClurkin with his self -title studio album “Donnie McClurkin”.

To understand the tremendous growth level witnessed by the gospel music sector need to a look how record executives were using industry professionals from the urban market to promote gospel recording projects and to expand their customer base(mainly church goers) into secular market. Also labels were spending more money on marketing and promotion. Many albums from black and white artists were beginning to sale over 400,000 units on average. 

                                                 Donnie  McClurkin’s solo to be certified 
                                                  gold in 1996 for over half million units 
                                                      sold in America according RIAA.

 Hardliners such as Dottie Peoples and Canton Spirituals averaged about 100,we take a look at Sparrow Communication Group a division of EMI Christian Music Group having six albums from artists on it roster to achieved gold certifications. These are: Carman’s “R.I.O.T”; Andy Griffith’s “I Love to Tell the Story” and “Precious Memories”; BeBe and CeCe Winans’s “Relationships”; “Amazing Grace: A Country Salute To Gospel” and finally “WOW 1996”. This was the most any Christian music company has received in one year!                                                 
                           Kirk Franklin’s album “Kirk Franklin and The Family” 
                            became the second live gospel album since Aretha Franklin’s
                          “Amazing Grace” album to go platinum according to 
                            RIAA (Record Industry Association of America).

Another label to experience phenomenal growth was Gospo Centric a black owned label based on the West Coast with the album entitled “Whatcha Lookin’ 4” recorded by Kirk Franklin and The Family that actually went to number one on the Top Contemporary Christian chart for week ending 1st February 1997 for two solid weeks (total of 38 weeks on chart). Kirk Franklin and The Family was the only black recording act at that time to have two gold albums certifications on the charts at the same time in one year in from 1996 to 1997. The Gospo Centric label was voted as the number one top gospel label and distributing label in America.

                                     “Whatcha Lookin’ 4” album, recorded by
                                       the Kirk Franklin and The Family 
                                     was number one  for over 19 weeks on the 
                                     Top Billboard Gospel Albums chart 
                                      listings in  The album became  their  
                                    second platinum certified according to RIAA.

At the same time EMI Christian Music Group was celebrating the successes of Bill Gaither’s projects: Bill Gaither & Homecoming Friends; videos series, which achieved gold, platinum and multi-platinum status for 19 titles in excess of three and half million units sold, while “The Preacher’s Wife” (Arista 18951) soundtrack at was number one on Billboard R&B chart for 20 weeks, week ending 26th April 1997. 

                       Written,researched and compiled 
                                    by Kevin Tomlin Music Historian 

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About Me

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Old Harlow, Essex, United Kingdom
Kevin Tomlin has over 34 years of teaching experience in Jamaica, England and America, including 15 years teaching music history of black origin and visual art in South Florida, U.S.A., through Arts in Education. Tomlin created special training programmes and workshops for music teachers in South Florida schools, using music history as the foundation, to build exciting programmes of study and support materials for education professionals. Since 2000, he’s taught music history, geography, religious education, history, visual arts and performing arts at schools in Hertfordshire and Essex, at both primary and secondary levels. He conducts research and provides consultancy services for multi-media organisations, schools, recording artists, cultural and faith-based groups and entertainment professionals.

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