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When Sunday ComesGospel Music in the Soul and Hip-Hop Eras$
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Claudrena N. Harold

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780252043574

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252043574.001.0001

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Higher Plane

Higher Plane

The Gospel According to Al Green

(p.108) Chapter 5 Higher Plane
When Sunday Comes

Claudrena N. Harold

University of Illinois Press

This chapter focuses on the gospel career of one of pop music’s biggest stars, Al Green. It documents his signing with Nashville’s Word Records in 1980 and closely analyzes his gospel recordings, most notably The Lord Will Make a Way, Higher Plane, and Soul Survivor. Building on the work of music critics like Greil Marcus and Robert Christgau, the chapter presents these recordings as extensions of the Memphis soul tradition he embraced on such classic records as Call Me and The Belle Album. Framing Green’s turn to gospel as simply a case of the prodigal son returning home undervalues the aesthetic concerns undergirding his decision to leave pop music. Singing gospel enabled him to stretch himself artistically, embracing both his religious self and his regional self.

Keywords:   Al Green, Memphis, Nashville, pop music, Word Records, Higher Plane

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