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  • Writer's pictureKimberly Renee

Gospel Music Hall of Fame | Un-whitewashing History

The GMA of the Dove Awards has refused to address the racist members honored in their hall of fame, including the "father of Southern Gospel," James D. Vaughan.

How it began

On June 1 at 10 am EST, I shared this video on my YouTube.

The video details the racist history of several men currently honored in the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame, Grammys, and more.

In addition to publishing the video, I emailed the video to the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, as well as several other organizations and people who I felt would find this material interesting and be willing to take corrective action.

Here's the beginning of the video in text form.

A partial transcript from the original YouTube video

If you’re not familiar, the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, which is operated by the Gospel Music Association (GMA) Foundation, has more than 300 elected members who’ve been inducted since the early 1970s.

Each inducted member has been influential in the gospel music industry for more than 30 years through writing and composing, publishing and printing, and performing and promoting.

According to the Tennessee encyclopedia, the oldest inductees include eighteenth-century ministers and songwriters, such as Charles Wesley, who composed over six thousand songs, and John Newton, minister and writer of “Amazing Grace.” Mahalia Jackson was the first Black person to be inducted, and Amy Grant is the youngest with recent inductees from 2021 include Bill Hern, The Isaacs, 4Him, and Commissioned.

On the heels of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1970s and 80s, tensions grew as Southern Gospel “conservatives” were resistant to racial integration and the emerging Jesus music, which blended sounds from folks and folk-rock.

The new developments in Christian music resulted in Southern Gospel becoming more marginalized by music consumers and losing influence in the GMA.

By the 1990s, more sounds made their way to mainstream Christian music and the genre was now divided into subgenres: “Gospel Music” (which meant Black Christian music), Contemporary Christian (which meant White Christian Music), and Southern gospel (which for many Black Christians is synonymous with White racist Christian music)

And this sentiment doesn’t come without merit.

In 1994, a group of conservative traditional gospel artists formed The Southern Gospel Music Association (SGMA) with its primary goal is "to preserve, protect and promote Southern Gospel Music, its history and heritage.”

And that history has strong ties to one of the most violent white supremacist hate groups in American history.

What's next?

Since the video release, I've heard from the Gospel Music Hall of Fame President and Executive Director. Here's what she said:

Hello Kimberly - Thank you for your email. We are truly grateful for your research and attention to this matter.

As a result of your hard work, our board and leadership will be taking a serious look at the individuals that you have profiled.

The GMA is a 57-year-old organization whose membership has changed over time and whose focus is on education, unity in the body of Christ and the music that celebrates that ideal.

Thanks for your help in continuing our efforts to grow as a community and culture.

Jackie Patillo

Update July 8, 2022 and beyond: The GMA has decided to keep James D. Vaughan in their hall of fame with no notation of his treachery or connection to violent racism. This burying of history is a consigning of it.


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