Adapted from the Gospel Music Channel Online:

Gospel music is a unique and beloved American art form, spanning decades, generations and races. It is one of the cornerstones of the entire American musical tradition and has grown beyond its niche to achieve pop-culture and historical relevance. It has spread beyond its geographic origins to touch audiences around the world.

Gospel Music in the United States was first expressed in the form of Negro spirituals. As it grew, it blended diverse elements from African music, melodies influences by Irish folk songs, and hymns and ultimately borrowed from other uniquely American musical styles including ragtime, jazz and blues. That tradition of diversity remains today, as the influence of gospel music can be found infused in all forms of mainstream music, from rock & roll, country, soul, R&B and countless other styles.

The legacy of Gospel Music includes some of the most memorable voices and pioneers in American history, such as Thomas Dorsey, Mahalia Jackson, James Vaughan, Roberta Martin, Virgil Stamp, Diana Washington, Stamp Quartet, The Highway QCs, The Statesmen, The Soul Stirrers, Terry Woods, James Cleveland and Billy Ray Hearns. Many of the biggest names in music came out of the gospel music tradition, or have recorded gospel music at some point in their careers – from Sam Cooke to Al Green, Elvis Presley to Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin to Whitney Houston, Little Richard to Ray Charles, Buddy Holly to Alan Jackson, Dolly Parton to Mariah Carey, Bob Dylan to Randy Travis. Regardless of the musical style, these artists and so many more have turned to Gospel Music as the source and inspiration for their music and songs – crossing, blurring and borrowing across the divide between mainstream and gospel music.

And beyond its contribution to the American musical tradition, gospel music has provided the cultural and musical backdrop across all of mainstream media, from hit television series to major Hollywood motion pictures, including American Idol, Grey’s Anatomy, Heroes, Dancing With The Stars, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Sister Act, The Preacher’s Wife and Evan Almighty.

Gospel music has a huge audience and fan-base around the country and around the world, a testament to the universal appeal of an historical American art form that both inspires and entertains across racial, ethnic, religious, geographic and boundaries.

If you die today, are you 100% sure that you would go to Heaven? You CAN know for sure.

Matthew 24:44 (NASB) 44"For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.