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Israel G. Liggins, radio personality and host of The Gospel Inspirational Show on KHVL 104.9FM/94.1 FM, better know as “Brother I.G.” or “You Know, you, know”, believes, “no true study of Black History can ever be valid without three elements.”

“Gospel Music is truly an American story. A story of overcoming obstacles, struggles, faith, triumph, always expressed with devotion and dignity,” said Liggins. “The Word of God, The Church, and the celebration of the first two which is called Gospel Music.

After being on the air for nearly 20 years, Liggins has a bird’s eye view from the D.J. booth.

“I followed Leroy Bryant who hosted the show for over 35 years. Before him was Wendell Baker Sr. and Scott Johnson. Together, we’ve seen and heard a lot. Anybody who was anybody in Gospel Music has come through Huntsville,” Liggins said. “The Mighty Clouds of Joy, Clark Sisters, even the Soul-Stirrers came from right up the road in Trinity. You name them we’ve had them and heard them too.”

Liggins said to understand the essence of true Gospel Music you have to go back.

“Not so much a (geographical) place. You see Africa is a continent not a country. You have to go back to the Word of God and the good news which we know as gospel,” said Liggins. “We are a people made in the image of our Lord. We are his people, called by his name born to praise The Lord.”

Liggins explained that if you want to learn about Jazz, you go to the southern United States. If you want to learn about Blues, you go to the cotton states. If you want to learn about Black Gospel Music, which Jazz and Blues come from you got to go to the southern Black Church.

“This music is made from a people who had to lift every voice and sing about what we’ve been through and still going through,” said Liggins.

Liggins recalls growing up on Gospel Hill, a historically Black neighborhood known for its revivals.

“I remember every radio was tuned in to the six o’clock news. At 6:30 every weekday, the Gospel Inspirational Show would come on and that’s all you heard,” Liggins said. “When I hear gospel I think of our culture in The Lord. That’s all we really have and it’s all we all really need.”

The history of the gospel genre closely parallels the history of the formerly enslaved in America as well as their descendants.

“If you really want to know what’s truly going on in the minds of Black People, you have to look at it through this music. The Ideals of our people have never been part of mainstream America,” Liggins said.

“Gospel speaks about hope. Not hope like a wish. But hope like as an expectation or trust. Like the three Hebrew boys trusting that our Lord would deliver them from the fiery furnace found in Daniel chapter 3 or in the book of Acts when Peter trusting in The Word said that we ought to obey God rather than man. All of it is set to a rhythm and a beat. I know the first drums came out of Africa but the slave-masters took that away so we clapped our hands and stomped our feet and made a new rhythm a beat designed to reach the soul. Once reaching the soul it prepares the heart to hear the message.”

And what is that message?

“It’s about our risen saviour. If our Lord can do that, then we can be delivered from slavery, Jim Crow, drug abuse, prison, sickness, recession, depression, you name it. That’s good news. So we praise him with everything that has breath read Psalms 150,” he said. “This music is ours. God gave it to us. But he gave it to us with a mission to never keep it to ourselves. We are to let that light shine for the world to see and give all glory and praise back to our Lord.”

“You can write something down or speak it or sing it. But in singing the Word of God it must be clearly understood,” Liggins said. “If not, then don’t call it gospel call it something else. If Black History does not include The Gospel then don’t call it Black History, call it something else, because it has been The Lord all along. As the song says ‘He brought me from a mighty long way’.”

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