SACRAMENTO – Since the glory days of Mahalia Jackson, gospel music has been a stabilizing force in the African American community. A mainstay within the black church, the art of gospel music creation has seldom been studied outside of the church sanctuary. However, many gospel musicians have found fame and fortune by implementing the gospel style in musical genres from Pop to Country & Western.
With the introduction of his exclusive DVD series, GospelChops.com’s Gerald Forrest not only illuminates gospel music as an art form, he brings the high-spirited experience to your home theater. “Gospel music performance is a very spiritual process and it’s often difficult to codify all of its intricacies in standard music notation,” says Forrest. “Like other genres, as music evolves, young generations come up with new ways to stretch the music to its creative limits. With our DVD projects, we capture that creative process and make it available for the world to study and learn,” he expresses.
Learning is exactly what you will do once you set your eyes on the amazing young musicians that Forrest endearingly calls, “church cats.” Award-winning drummers from all over the United States appear in the “Shed Sessionz” series and have sparked a fiery global movement that grows with each release. Bass players join the GospelChops movement in “Bass Sessionz Vol. 1,” a star-studded DVD that blends genres in a “gospel meets jazz” format.
Forrest proclaims, “The biggest names in secular music look to gospel musicians for their bands. The reason is because the church environment teaches a form of musical expression that is hard to emulate. GospelChops makes the music come alive and feel good.”
Forrest originally came up with the concept for “Shed Sessionz” after developing the website, GospelChops.com as a vehicle to pay tribute to the numerous musical contributions of generations of gospel musicians. His original vision was to educate the world about this inspirational art form and its history. The site has offered free gospel music education, lessons and content since 2005. “I have always believed that gospel musicians were some of the most talented and most overlooked musicians in the industry,” states Forrest.
“Anyone remotely familiar with the Black church recognizes that music is at the core of our worshipping and celebration. I created GospelChops.com to pay homage to this fact. I wanted the world to have access to the beauty and creativity that is often hidden within the confines of the church sanctuary,” expresses Forrest. “‘Shed Sessionz’ followed as an extension of that same thinking. The drumbeat, like gospel music, is at the essence of it all. It is what holds the rhythm, yet the actual drummer is often just taken for granted. ‘Shed Sessionz’ changes that!”
A man on a mission, Forrest created the nonprofit corporation, GospelChops Foundation last year as another extension of his vision. The organization is dedicated to enhancing the lives of at-risk children in underserved communities through music education. The Young Musicians Program, under its umbrella, is an after-school music-learning program in California, which has gained sponsorship from Marines Toys for Tots and the Google Corporation. Proceeds from the video series support the foundation’s efforts.