My two posts that discussed the movie "Leap of Faith" got the soundtrack going back through my head, and after a brief search on YouTube, I found the original version of one of the soundtrack songs:
(note the difference in the direction of Alex Bradford's vocal and piano harmonies from 2:05 to 3:05. also note that the clip gets "preachier" after 3:05 so some folks may want to bail at that part)
One of the big draws gospel music holds for me is the enthusiasm and creativity it draws out of performers and listeners. That said, since becoming a nontheist, I find myself cringing a bit more at some of the ideas and images that get slipped into people's minds with a catchy beat and good baseline.
(yes trivia buffs, it's the song that appeared in "Ghost")
Great piano runs, organ wails and harmonies sugarcoat a little ditty by Dorothy Love Coates and the Gospel Harmonettes about judgment, no possibility of forgiveness, the world being consumed in fire and the sinners with it. Not quite "Gentle jesus, meek and mild."
It conflicts me because some of the great gospel music talks about determination, perseverance, helping others and being so joyful that you have to sing and shout. Equally great gospel (from an aesthetic pov) dangles people over hell, creates a self-image of a dirty sinner and tells them to leave injustice unopposed and "give it to god".
I so wish a few nontheists would grab a Hammond B-3, a piano and the rest of a rhythm section and do some secular gospel-there should be lots to be excited about with the world, the universe, our better understanding of ourselves-the potential is there.
While not strictly done in gospel style nor done by a nontheist, here's someone whose taken the themes of holding on and overcoming while depending on each other and produced some great music:
Little Milton sang and growled about life and love-what sorts of things can we nontheists get so excited about that we clap, snap and tap?