Friday, November 19, 2010

"You Were There" - Norman Hutchins

This has simply got to be one of my favorite black gospel songs of all time.

I remember very distinctly, as a child, listening to this song over and over and over again after the passing of my father. The message of this song is so simple: “God, you said you would never leave me or forsake me, and you stayed true to your word.”

The music, as black gospel goes, is relatively simple, but the progressions are skillfully written so as to help take the listener on the same journey down memory lane that Norman Hutchins takes, citing the general idea that, through it all, God was there. It also serves to take the listener back through their own personal experience with God, putting you in remembrance of all the times that God has shown Himself faithful. The addition of that strong mass choir sound after the bridge drives it home, and really serves to bring comfort to the listener. Wow!

Honestly, I'm totally thrilled to be able to share this song with you. It's been extremely helpful to me, and I pray that it is the same with you.

You can listen to "You Were There" on the YouTube video below:

Stay tuned for more great Christian music @ Christian Music Discovery, the place for good Christan Music.


  1. I am wondering why you use the qualifier “black” gospel music instead of just “gospel music.” Is there a difference? I understand regional variations (Louisiana vs. Chicago) and the evolution of gospel music by era (1930s vs. 1970s, for instance), but why the racial distinction?

    I bring this up because my 18-year-old stepdaughter had a habit of qualifying everyone by race when speaking about kids in her high school class. For example, “there is this Asian kid in my class who is double-jointed” or “a black girl on their cheerleading squad did a triple-axel.” This is an innocent habit of hers (BTW, her father is second-generation Mexican and she looks a bit Asian).

    I contend that this focus on race is irrelevant and promotes racism. In our modern, racially-mixed society, race is getting more difficult to discern we would be better served by being less focused on race and more focused on the topic at hand…gospel music, a kid who is double-jointed and the cheerleader who did a triple-axel.

    I am a huge fan of gospel music, both old and new, and I have never heard the term “black gospel.” Maybe there is such a thing.

  2. Honestly, you have a great question, so I'll answer it as best I can:

    I use the term "black gospel" as a concession, not necessarily as a reflection of my ideal way to label such music. It refers to the more traditional sounding gospel that typically includes a mass choir where the emotion that's communicated is more of the emphasis than, perhaps, the overall intonation of a given part.

    I use the term to distinguish from some of the other kinds of gospel, like "show gospel" (Ron Kenoly is a good example of this, and an absolute favorite of mine), "mass choir" (although, that is even still a rather broad term, but is more inclusive of what would probably be referred to as "white gospel"), and your more modern gospel music (typically a lead singer with 3-part harmony backing harmony, which typically gives more precise harmony and intonation than "black gospel.")

    I agree with your point: using racial labels in music often times does more harm than good when it comes to eliminating stereotypes, which is something that we especially need eliminated from our Churches, let alone the world.

    When I listen to music, I either like it, or I don't, and I like it for specific reasons, or I don't like it for specific reasons. I also like to listen for what the writer/arranger was seeking to accomplish with certain elements of a given song or album. I don't listen to something and think "this is black gospel" or "this is white-people music." Like I said: I used the term only as a concession for the sake of categorizing it for the reader. After reading your e-mail, I will probably just refer to it as "traditional gospel," since that term seems to fit what I was trying to communicate. As a matter of fact, I just realized that that's what I call it in my "about me" page.

    Thanks for mentioning that point. I really appreciate.