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.