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South African popular gospel music in the post-apartheid era : genre, production, mediation and consumption.

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This dissertation studies South African popular 'Gospel' music in the context of the new order of the post-apartheid era. The four main focal points of the study are genre, production, mediation and consumption. The end of apartheid was a historic and significant socio-political phenomenon in South Africa. Its implications were not only socio-political; they also affected many other aspects of the country, including arts and culture. Music was not exempt. The genre of local 'Gospel' is premised on the Christian faith, so that by producing and mediating 'Gospel' music, the music industry is at the same time producing and mediating the 'Gospel', or Christian culture. Consequently, by consuming 'Gospel' music the audience also consumes this 'Gospel' culture. Local 'Gospel' first emerged with foreign influences brought into South Africa by the missionaries, but gradually developed into the broad and complex genre that we know today. This is, in part, a result of 'other' influences, styles and elements having been incorporated into it. Many production companies are responsible for the production of local 'Gospel' music. These can be broadly categorized into two: major companies, and indies (which are small, private production companies). These two production routes have different implications for the artists and their music. Similarly, there are many different ways in which this music is mediated, or 'channelled', to its audience. These include television, radio, print media (newspapers, magazines, posters, fliers, etc.), internet, and live performances, all of which have their own specificities that determine their effectiveness in mediating local 'Gospel'. As is the case with any music, the audience for local 'Gospel' consumes its music in different ways and for different purposes. Though the artists/musicians assign certain meanings to their musical works, the audience does not always identify precisely with those musical meanings. Different people at different places and times, with different experiences and social conditions, encounter and interpret the music in different ways. South African popular 'Gospel' music is a broad and complex genre that has developed and grown over the years. The birth of democracy has had an indelible impact on it, and on its processes of production, mediation and consumption.


Thesis (M.Mus.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 2005.


Gospel music--South Africa--History and criticism., Popular music--South Africa--History and criticism., Theses--Music.