How I Got Over: African-American Gospel Music in the Missouri Bootheel
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This essay emerged from the Bootheel Underserved Arts Communities Project, which was co-sponsored by the Missouri Arts Council, the Missouri Folk Arts Program, and the State Historical Society of Missouri at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Extensive fieldwork undertaken in 1994 documented, among other things, a rich vein of African American gospel music in this region. Jean Crandall, a graduate student in the Folk Studies Program at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, interviewed a number of black gospel singers and taped performances at choir rehearsals, church services, and fellowship gatherings. One of the gospel singers she interviewed, Mildred Whitehorn, was subsequently chosen to participate as a master artist in Missouri's Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program. This essay explores the phenomenon of African American gospel in the Bootheel, with a special focus on soloist Mildred Whitehorn.
Missouri Folk Arts Program, 1995