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Ohio University Chillicothe to host GOSPEL screening and panel

Ohio University Chillicothe, in partnership with WOUB Public Media, will host a screening of selections from the new PBS docuseries, GOSPEL, followed by a panel of local Black church leaders and music experts on Feb. 8, from 6-8 p.m. in the Bennett Hall Auditorium.

GOSPEL is a new four-hour docuseries that explores the rich history of Black spirituality through sermon and song from executive producer, host, and writer Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. This Black History Month event is co-sponsored by the Chillicothe Ross County Public Library. 

Panelists Beverly Gray, local historian and director of the David Nickens Museum; Ric McConnell, a local gospel choir director and worship leader; and gospel musician Linda Wilson will react to the film and share perspectives on local Black Church history and music. 

From the blues to hip-hop, African Americans have been the driving force of sonic innovation for over a century. Musical styles come and go, but there is one sound that has been a constant source of strength, courage and wisdom from the pulpit to the choir lofts on any given Sunday: the gospel. 

In GOSPEL, Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, speaks with dozens of clergymen, singers, and scholars about their connection to the music that has transcended its origins and now spreads “the good word” all around the world. The series features interviews with notable names including Dionne Warwick, U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock, Rev. Otis Moss III,  and Professor Michael Eric Dyson, as well as awe-inspiring musical performances of Gospel favorites “Can’t Nobody Do Me Like Jesus,” “Total Praise,” and others from talents including The Belle Singers, Cory Henry, Celisse, and more.

Gospel is more than the soundtrack of the African American experience, “it’s the beating heart and soul,” said Gates. “From the Great Migration to today, the history of Black gospel music and preaching is one of constant movement, and it’s long been a dream of mine to bring it to public television. We’re blessed to have such outstanding partners in delivering this series and concert at a time in our nation when the need for gospel’s transcendent, healing powers is so great.”

GOSPEL looks at the history of Black religious music and preaching, showcasing the symbiotic relationship of words and songs present in any Black church. The series examines the origin of Black gospel music, which blended the sacred spirituals with the blues tradition and soared to new heights during the Great Migration. This music served as an outlet for the anger and frustration of living as a Black person in America, which remains true today. The series also explores the evolution of preaching styles over time, and the impact of class, gender, cultural innovations, and consumer technologies that shaped the development of gospel since its conception.

The screening is free and all are welcome. OHIO Chillicothe asks those who plan to attend to RSVP at

January 17, 2024
Staff reports