Sexy For Jesus: Contemporary Gospel Performance

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

11:00am - 12:30pm

Department of Africana Studies/Rites and Reason Theatre

Churchill House


Gospel music has always been known for blending popular music with lyrics espousing the Christian faith. Consequently, it is to be expected that contemporary gospel artists would incorporate hip-hop music forms in their repertoires. Yet, in recent decades, many contemporary gospel artists have committed themselves to not only incorporating hip-hop sounds, but also presenting themselves as desirable and even sexy, by the standards of hip-hop culture.

Consequently, through their attire, musical choices, and abandonment of traditional sacred/secular binaries, gospel artists present themselves as accessible to audiences beyond black Protestant churchgoers. By exploring the work of award-winning gospel duo Mary Mary, this presentation will show that gospel artists’ “sexy-for-Jesus” inclination not only signals the gospel music industry’s evangelistic emphasis on crossing over to mainstream markets, but also reflects theological shifts among black Christians in America.