Comprehensive and richly illustrated, Close Harmony traces the development of the
music known as southern gospel from its antebellum origins to its twentieth-century
emergence as a vibrant musical industry driven by the world of radio,
television, recordings, and concert promotions.
Marked by smooth, tight harmonies and a lyrical focus on the message
of Christian salvation, southern gospel--particularly the white gospel
quartet tradition--had its roots in nineteenth-century shape-note singing. The spread
of white gospel music is intricately connected to the people who based their
livelihoods on it, and Close Harmony is filled with the stories of artists
and groups such as Frank Stamps, the Chuck Wagon Gang, the Blackwood Brothers,
the Rangers, the Swanee River Boys, the Statesmen, and the Oak Ridge Boys. The book
also explores changing relations between black and white artists and shows how,
following the civil rights movement, white gospel was influenced by black gospel, bluegrass,
rock, metal, and, later, rap.
With Christian music sales topping the $600 million mark at the close of
the twentieth century, Close Harmony explores the history of an important
and influential segment of the thriving gospel industry.
About the Author
James R. Goff Jr. is professor of history at Appalachian State University in
Boone, North Carolina. He also serves as the chief historical consultant for
the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee,
and is a regular columnist for Singing News magazine.