For the longest time, gospel music was a niche genre and a community synonymous with African-Americans and the “church culture”. Since its origins, gospel msuic has become a huge platform of entertainment in every medium, an assured crossover brand, and a definite moneymaker.
Gospel musicians have taken their artistry to a whole new level incorporating background dancers, high-end fashion and colorful makeup in their presentations. Music videos and collaborations now feature hip-hop’s biggest names and socialites, and more recently, have shaken up the record label industry with one of the greatest mergers to date — Universal Motown and EMI Gospel are now under the monarch Motown Gospel. The gospel labels now have pressure and a responsibility to make gospel less niche and more crossover to set a ranking on other music charts, namely R&B.
Aside from Motown Gospel’s renowned roster (including CeCe Winans, Kierra Sheard, Tye Tribbett and Smokie Norful), we also have gospel delving into reality television. As a product of the gospel community, I was faced with uncertainty as to how the church culture would be portrayed in that space and how the mainstream audiences would view it. Some of the shows have not reached a level of success (in other words, a Season 2) but it doesn’t stop networks from trying.
The latest addition is weekly docu-drama The Sheards, a product of BET’s original programming. The Sheards follows the lives of the Sheard family as they navigate family, friends, and faith in a modern world. Faith. Music. Sex. Family. Love. Relationships. Choices. These are all issues teens and young adults face. But when you’re a pastor’s kid and live in a world where drinking, sex and drugs are all considered abominations, these issues become a lot more powerful. Tune in Sundays at 8/7c on BET and watch the trailer here!