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Gospel Mime: Anointed Ministry, Afrocentrism, and Gender in Black Gospel Performance

Maggio, Danielle (2017) Gospel Mime: Anointed Ministry, Afrocentrism, and Gender in Black Gospel Performance. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The art form of Gospel Mime is a unique praise and worship practice within the African American Church community that combines popular gospel music with the theatrical medium of miming. One of the most recent forms of praise song and dance to emerge in Black congregations nation-wide, Gospel Mime was formally introduced into worship services in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the early 1990s. Whereas traditional gospel performances are structured around live vocal and instrumental performances, Gospel Mime blends non-verbal communication with pre-recorded gospel music. As a ministry, Gospel Mime expands the line of liturgical song and dance, which has been an important part of Black Christian worship services since the 1970s, and has sparked debate about the role of dance and the body in worship practices. This thesis seeks to historicize Black gospel performance within the framework of an African American music continuum in order to locate Gospel Mime as a nationally mediated and popularized circuit of Black expressive culture that produces meaning—both celebrated and contested—about race, religion, and gender.
By investigating the history, social meanings, and embodied practices of Gospel Mime as an innovative outlet for creative spiritual expression rooted in traditional gospel practice, this thesis analyzes Gospel Mime as a set of aesthetic values and practices that articulate African American identities through sound and gesture. Based on research conducted during 2015 and 2016 with Bethlehem Baptist Church, in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, along with a self-identified “rogue” Gospel Mime who no longer performs in the church, this thesis serves to investigate two contrasting styles, or paradigms, of Gospel Mime: the mainstream style of anointed ministry, as it is understood and popularized within the Black church, and an alternative style that reinterprets the practice and actively acknowledges mainstream Gospel Mime as patriarchal and monolithic. By examining the performative and pedagogical ways in which the art form of Gospel Mime reappropriates entertainment outside of the African American music continuum and infuses it with innovative religious and spiritual expression, this thesis serves to highlight the social significance of Gospel Mime in the Black community.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Maggio, Danielledam217@pitt.edudam217
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairWeintraub, Andrewanwein@pitt.eduanwein
Committee MemberHelbig, Adrianaanh59@pitt.eduanh59
Committee MemberAyyagari, Shalinisayyagari@pitt.edusayyagari
Date: 14 June 2017
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 12 December 2016
Approval Date: 14 June 2017
Submission Date: 2 May 2017
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 101
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Music
Degree: MA - Master of Arts
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Gospel Mime; Youth Ministry; Afrocentrism; Gender; K&K Mime; Pittsburgh; Ethnography; Mime; Black Gospel Music
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2017 16:01
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2017 16:01


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