Emmanuel Baptist Church, Bronx, NY. Photo by Emilio Guerra. The church I was baptized at a long, long, long time ago.

I love gospel music. I grew up in a baptist and catholic household. So when people asked me about my religious affiliation I would always say confused. But there is something about gospel music that always seemed to mend a heart that was hurting, broken, confused or lost. There is something about gospel music touches our soul and makes our heart sing with unfettered and uncontrollable joy. There is something that I can’t put my finger on that makes even those of a different faith or no faith at all moved by the beauty of its message.

My favorite song was “We Have Come This Far By Faith” by Bishop Carlton Pearson. I remember singing in the choir and watching how my nana, my mother and the elders in the church were moved by it. Shoot, I catch myself when I am down singing it even though I longer share the faith of my mother and grandparents. It is the only reason why I would go to church and it turns out that I actually sound better (yes, I can sing or that is what my mom has told me) singing gospel. In some way I feel I can’t and I will never let go of gospel music.

One reason why I cannot let go of gospel music is because gospel music speaks to the experience of many Black Americans. Letting go of gospel music would be like letting go a piece of myself and history. Gospel music had gotten us through times of struggle, happiness and challenge. Gospel music brings me comfort because I remember when my nana who as she would say has “gone on to glory” would sing “Precious Lord”, “Rough Side of the Mountain” and other songs. Gospel music is a reminder that she still exists within my heart.

One of the constant messages of “We Have Come This Far By Faith” and other gospel songs was to have faith, never quit and keep going. To me gospel music an amazing and motivational almost celestial body that hoovers over us even when we do not realize it is there. So what is your favorite song?

Check out this awesome excerpt from a documentary on gospel music called “Too Close to Heaven: The History of Gospel Music”