Baylor students create album cover art inspired by black gospel music
For years now, Baylor professor and alumnus Robert Darden, BSED ’76, has been working with the Baylor Libraries’ Digital Projects Group to lead a search-and-rescue mission for music from the Golden Age of black gospel. This effort — dubbed the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project — has uncovered some truly moving songs, hidden social messages, and beautiful album covers. It’s even become permanently featured in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.
But, Darden has found, there’s one particular set of music that lacks the cover art it deserves. From the 1940s to ’60s, American black gospel musicians recorded thousands of songs on 45 RPM vinyl discs. These records’ center labels featured only basic identifying information, and most came in simple paper sleeves — lacking the artwork we generally associate with albums.
That’s where Baylor art professor Terry Roller and his Art 4331 students came in. Roller gave them a special assignment: Design custom album jackets for these cover-less songs. Students drew inspiration from the lyrics, musical style and even scriptural references for their work. The end result was 44 beautiful and perfectly fitting pieces of art; see examples below, and the complete collection here.
Darden is glad to see this these 45s get the recognition they deserve — not only because this genre is the root of most modern music, he says, but because, “Gospel music tells the story of this extraordinary people. It gives us — 60 years later — insight into the lives and beliefs of Americans who would have otherwise been marginalized or lost.”
If you’d like to see the album covers yourself, stop by Moody Library this summer; they’ll be on display in the garden level through August.
Sic ’em, Baylor art students!