This Week on American Black Journal:

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. examines gospel music’s rich history in new PBS docuseries ‘GOSPEL’

A new PBS docuseries from Henry Louis Gates, Jr. delves into the origins and influence of gospel music on Black spirituality. Premiering Feb. 12-13, “GOSPEL,” a four-part documentary series, explores the rich history of sermon and song in the Black church. The docuseries reunites Gates, an acclaimed Harvard scholar and documentarian, with directors Stacey L. Holman and Shayla Harris, who created “Making Black America: Through the Grapevine” and “The Black Church: This Is Our Story. This Is Our Song” in collaboration with Gates.

Throughout the “GOSPEL” docuseries, viewers will hear conversations with a number of gospel singers as well as clergymen and scholars. The series also explores how evolving preaching styles, cultural innovations and consumer technologies shaped the development of gospel music since its conception. 

In anticipation of the “GOSPEL” series premiere, “American Black Journal” host Stephen Henderson talks with Holman, the director and producer of the docuseries, about the music history it chronicles and the impact on the Black church. They also discuss Detroit’s connection to the genre and how other music genres have been influenced by gospel. 

Plus, join “American Black Journal” for its “GOSPEL” Watch Party on Thursday, Feb. 15 on Facebook and YouTube. Local gospel music experts, as well as performers, writers and producers in the genre, will discuss Detroit’s rich gospel music history and where gospel music in our city is headed today. 

Techno’s African American roots: Pioneering producer Carl Craig on carving a lane for Black electronic music 

Many electronic music aficionados likely know the origin of techno music in Detroit. It’s a conversation that includes pioneering African American producer Carl Craig, a leading figure in the second wave of Detroit techno. The Detroit-born producer has found acclaim as a techno artist, Grammy-nominated producer, label manager and music festival creator.  

Craig’s music career started in 1989 under a number of aliases — 69, BFC, Psyche, Innerzone Orchestra, No Boundaries and several others. In 1991, Craig opened his own music label, Planet E Communications, followed by the release of his first studio album in 1995.  

Flash forward to 2000-2001when Craig served as the co-creator and artistic director of the Detroit Electronic Music Festival. Craig received a Grammy nomination in 2008 for his mix of Junior Boys’ “Like a Child.” 

For Black History Month, “American Black Journal” host Stephen Henderson sat down with Craig for a conversation about techno’s Black roots in Detroit. Craig shares memories of growing up in Detroit and how his role models – techno artists Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May – created a music genre that now dominates the electronic music scene around the world. He also talks about the importance and influence of the Black music experience locally and globally.

Violinist Nathan Amaral takes home first place in Sphinx Competition Senior Division

Violinist Nathan Amaral, a 28-year-old from Rio de Janeiro, has been named the winner of Sphinx Competition’s Senior Division. Amaral receives the Robert Frederick Smith Prize, a $50,000 award, and the opportunity to perform with several major orchestras across the nation.  

The 27th annual competition was held in Detroit in January. The competition showcased the exceptional talent of Black and Latinx classical string players. The finalists performed alongside the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra, an ensemble comprised of top professionals from around the United States. 

Judges for the 2024 Sphinx Competition included Joseph Conyers, Principal Bass of the Philadelphia Orchestra; violinist Randall Goosby; cellist Seth Parker Woods; Alasdair Tait, Chief Executive & Artistic Director of Young Classical Artists Trust; George Taylor, Professor of Viola at Eastman School of Music; violinist Elena Urioste; and John Zion, President & CEO of MKI Artists. 

Watch Amaral’s first-place performance, a compelling rendition of the first movement of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Concerto for Violin in G minor. 

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Watch American Black Journal on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 9:30 a.m. on Detroit Public TV, WTVS-Channel 56.