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date: 04 July 2022

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter argues that virtuosic gospel vocal performance constitutes a medium of spiritual value creation that produces communal power and facilitates what can be described as a trade of musicality—of commercial exchange centered around sacred music. Dorinda Clark Cole is a renowned gospel vocalist. In this chapter, Clark Cole’s concert at the Samsung Experience showroom in the Time Warner Center at the Columbus Circle area of New York City provides a productive site from which to examine the commercialization of gospel music because it involves exchange relations between a musical community and a corporate sponsor. A closer focus on the relationship between gospel music and capitalism in this context challenges a dichotomized notion of how gospel music circulates in varied sacred and secular arenas that seemingly represent incommensurate, even contrasting, systems of value. Through a musical analysis and an exploration of corporate interests in the concert, value creation through musical performance in a commercial setting is shown to forge social relations and produce power that sustains the regenerative nature of gospel music.

Keywords: gospel music, value, virtuosity, vocal performance, African American, religion, commercialism, capitalism

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