Music born in the South–jazz, bluegrass, and country–have strong ties to two other forms of uniquely American music: gospel and blues. Rutherford County’s gospel musical tradition has echoed for generations in the one-room rural churches which dot the landscape. The work songs sung by enslaved African Americans in the surrounding fields before the Civil War were transformed into the refrains of gospel and blues.
The sacred music, gospel, and the secular music, blues, shared the common themes of daily African American life. Much to the irritation of some ministers, gospel and blues carried similar musical elements of call and response, repetition, and used multiple layers of rhythm to move their listeners. Both genres reverberate with sounds of loss, redemption, perseverance, and the celebration of life.
Marshall Keeble was born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee on December 7, 1878, on the heels of the Reconstruction Era, to Mittie and Robert Keeble. His parents had been enslaved. Family members have recounted his early introduction to church by his parents. Marshall Keeble’s sermons are renown for their energy and ability to move people. He traveled from Texas, to Georgia, Virginia, Africa, and Asia, giving sermons, and converting thousands. Keeble’s sermons are noted for attracting people of all ethnicities, and many of his parishoners were Euro-American during the most turbulent times of the 1960s Civil Rights movement.
(1/2) Marshall Keeble – The Great Physician
(2/2) Marshall Keeble – The Great Physician
(1/2) Marshall Keeble – There’s Water in the Plan
The Holloway High School Quartet was a nationally recognized singing group in the 1940s from Murfreesboro. They sang and recorded gospel music. John W. Work III, a folklorist from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, came to Murfreesboro in 1938 through 1941. He recorded local gospel and blues musicians.
Holloway High School Quartet – Daniel Saw the Stone