House Music & Spirituality Mix Pt.1
In conjunction with my presentation at this year’s LGBT History Festival (which I will attempt to put online in it’s entirety in the future), I produced several short mixes that chart some of the seminal moments in house music and attempt to draw lines of similarity and demarkation in the subject matter.
In this early chapter we start to see two distinct themes arise. In the first instance we can identify tracks that make explicit reference to religious content and contexts. Promised Land talks of angels, love, promised land and an egalitarian future. Baby Wants To Ride opens with a fragment of the black paternoster prayer followed by the voice of God sending Jamie Principle to spread his gospel of house. You’ve Got The Love talks of food and daily need in a thinly veiled interpolation of the Lord’s Prayer.
In the second theme we hear a broader set of ideals coming to the fore; specifically a desire of a utopian tomorrow or a brighter day. In the latter half of the mix The Children’s Freedom offers a stream of consciousness-style diatribe on the nature of freedom and acceptance lacking from contemporary society. Both Db and Cassio reference the I Have A Dream speech (whether as sung lyrics or by directly sampling the original speech). Finally Adeva rounds out the mix with a reversioning of You Got The Love, this time with spirituality replaced by community (as Reitveld suggested).
Given that house music only really existed for half of the 1980s the scope and span of the ideas contained within the canon appear incredibly well developed and, at the same time, rather diverse in terms of their themes. Some of these themes and ideas become less concentrated as house music passes into the 90s and the 80s, and some of the more subtle coding is lost with the rise of a new thread of modern christianity around the year 2000. But these early examples are a fascinating herald of what will come later.
The second instalment of this mix, focusing on the 1990s is available here.