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Thursday May 25, 2017
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Tye Tribbett and G.A.



With gospel, the dynamic goes in the opposite direction as well: gospel not only borrows from secular music but also shapes it. Religious music in the African American community has always been a wellspring of new musical devices, which are really new ways of responding to an often-hostile external world and finding strength in faith. As musicians filter the sounds of secular music down to the interplay of solo voice and choir, they give rise to new creative forces.

Consider Tribbett in front of his choir, a dynamo with a new and fascinating variety in his repertoire of vocal expression. Choir leaders, drawing on the cadences of African American preachers, have always exhorted their singers to greater fervor by jumping out of the melody to add words of encouragement like "Let me hear you sing it!" But Tribbett takes this technique to new extremes. Breaking into and out of song, he gives the whole line in advance, like a deacon "lining out" a hymn in the old days — or sometimes just cues the singers with an exclamation. He may carry on straight through the choir's line and explode into more commentary at the end — or not. Tribbett creates an original kind of tension in the relationship between soloist and group, and it's one that secular or R&B singers could draw on if they so chose.

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