In past years I've had to go out of my way to catch live gospel music. If mainstream artists such as GRAMMY winners Kirk Franklin and Mary Mary weren't touring across the country, my live gospel coverage would be relegated to online research and YouTube clips. Thankfully, that hasn't been the case recently as the gospel genre has been more front and center than ever before, with new possibilities presenting themselves regularly in the form of new labels, new projects and even new reality shows.
Mary Mary's self-titled reality series on WE tv, which was recently renewed for a third season, has spawned the creation of even more reality fare, including a show from GRAMMY winner Karen Clark Sheard and her family, appropriately titled "The Sheards." Additionally, Bishop T. D. Jakes recently announced he is throwing his hat into the talk show arena this fall with "Mind, Body & Soul," proving gospel is continuing to get some major play these days.
Though the gospel genre is not heavily featured on major TV networks, but with the annual support shown by cable staples BET ("Celebration Of Gospel") and TV One ("The Trumpet Awards") and not to mention the formation of the Gospel Music Channel, which is dedicated wholly to the genre, it's likely only a matter of time before the major networks begin to acknowledge the incredible talent.
Another major step toward mainstream relevance took place in March with the formation of the Motown Gospel label, a collaboration between the legendary Motown Records and EMI Gospel, which offers the potential for broader urban adult contemporary crossover. GRAMMY winner CeCe Winans is among the label's first signees.
There are so many reasons to be excited about gospel music in 2013. Projects from the newly formed group United Tenors (comprised of GRAMMY winner Fred Hammond, David Hollister, GRAMMY nominee Eric Roberson, and Brian Courtney Wilson) and Shirley Caesar both debuted at in the Top 5 on Billboard’s Gospel Albums chart this week. GRAMMY-nominated artist Tamela Mann is currently on a North American tour with her husband, David Mann. And new music from GRAMMY-nominated artist Tye Tribbett is due June 4.
Yes, gospel has come a long way. Thankfully, for those of us who love the genre, it's fighting its way into the mainstream, one song, one project and one show at a time.