Ch4 - The Gospel Truth

By Robert Beckford | Mon 21 March 2005

Are the origins of African American music European?

BBC Radio WM Presenter Robert Beckford argues that there are strong links between Scottish Presbyterian music and the gospel music heard in African American churches. The Channel 4 documentary asserts that upon arrival to America, enslaved Africans plagiarised Scottish music which an Beckford and an African American contributor contends is the basis for all African American music.

The Gospel Truth

This is another Channel 4 documentary aiming to reassert that African people had no culture of value before their contact with Europeans. It attempts to dispossess us from our heritage by denigrating our contribution to world culture.

Presenter Robert Beckford who appears to have officially adopted the persona of African culture dissenter was also responsible for the abysmal God is Black. As with that tabloid documentary, supposition was presented as fact without vigorous and thorough academic testing. The documentaries central theme that there was no 'soul' in religious music until enslaved African people met European missionaries is simply ludicrous. Thankfully, the contribution from conscientious African British intellect Kwame Kwei-Armah was spot on. In his criticism of this shoddy hypothesis he denounced the obvious attempt to assert an artificially created cultural indebtedness to Europeans.

When he asked "What is the aim of saying that the one thing you did that is world class comes from 'us' as well? he exposed the programs insidious agenda.

In closing he added "It isn't a new phenomenon to get a black [African] face to espouse a white [Eurocentric] polemic."

We concur.

Channel 4

External Links
Gospel Truth - Channel 4

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