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Gospel blues (or holy blues) is a form of blues-based gospel music that has been around since the inception of blues music. It combines evangelistic lyrics with blues instrumentation, often blues guitar accompaniment.
|Cultural origins||Late 19th century, African Americans|
According to musician and historian Stefan Grossman, "holy blues" was coined to originally describe Reverend Gary Davis's style of traditional blues playing with lyrics conveying a religious message. Davis and Blind Willie Johnson are considered the genre's two dominant performers, according to Dick Weissman. Other notable gospel-blues performers include Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Washington Phillips.
Blues musicians who became devout, or even practicing clergy, include Reverend Robert Wilkins and Ishman Bracey. Bluesmen such as Boyd Rivers, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Charley Patton, Sam Collins, Josh White, Blind Boy Fuller, Blind Willie Mctell, Bukka White, Sleepy John Estes and Skip James also recorded gospel and religious songs, although these were sometimes released under a pseudonym.
- Weissman, Dick; Weissman, Richard (2005). Blues: The Basics. Routledge. p. 77. ISBN 9780415970686.
- Grossman, Stefan (1974). Rev. Gary Davis Blues Guitar. Oak Publications. p. 108. ISBN 9781783234592.
- Wardlow, G., and Komara, E. M. (1998). Chasin' That Devil Music: Searching for the Blues. San Francisco: Miller Freeman Books. pp. 43, 45. ISBN 0-87930-552-5.