Black Gospel Music Preservation Program | Royce-Darden Collection

Black Gospel Music Preservation Program | Royce-Darden Collection

The purpose of the Black Gospel Music Preservation Program (BGMPP) is to identify, acquire, preserve, record and catalogue the most at-risk music from the black gospel music tradition. This collection will primarily contain 78s, 45s, LPs, and the various tape formats issued in the United States and abroad between the 1940s and the 1980s. Additionally, any ephemera that may be of use to scholars – including PR photos and press packets, taped interviews, informal photographs, tour books and programs, newspaper and magazine clippings, and sheet music – will also be acquired as it becomes available. The ultimate goal is to have a copy of every song released by every black gospel artist or group during the target time period. 





Browsing Suggestions :

Browsing Suggestions :

A Note of Thanks :

A Note of Thanks :

Robert F. Darden

Professor Darden founded the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project (now, The Black Gospel Music Preservation Program) in partnership with the Baylor Libraries back in 2006 following a New York Times op-ed piece he wrote in 2005 Gospel's Got the Blues. Professor Darden raised the initial funds  to launch this ambitious project. Years later, the program continues to grow, and is now a well supported program of Baylor University.


Robert F. Darden is a Master Teacher and Emeritus Professor of Journalism, Public Relations & New Media at Baylor University. He is an award-winning teacher, researcher, and author, widely cited, quoted and interviewed on a variety of topics in the international and national media.

He is the author of more than two-dozen books, most recently:

People Get Ready: A New History of Black Gospel Music  (2005)
Nothing But Love in God’s Water, Volume I: Black Sacred Music from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement  (2014)
Nothing But Love in God’s Water, Volume II: Black Sacred Music from Sit-Ins to Resurrection City  (2016)
Soon and Very Soon: The Transformative Music and Ministry of Andrae Crouch  (2023, upcoming)


In recent years, this former newspaper journalist has been interviewed and featured by the BBC, several NPR programs (including “Fresh Air with Terri Gross”), the PBS series “The Black Church: This is My Story, This is My Song” with Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., and in numerous national magazines, newspapers, podcasts and webpages. His essays, features, editorials and columns have appeared in The New York Times, The Oxford American, Christianity Today, The Dallas Morning News, Huffington Post and hundreds of others.


He was Gospel Music Editor for Billboard Magazine from 1984 to 1998. He was also Senior Editor of The Wittenburg Door from 1988 to 2008.


Darden is the most awarded professor in Baylor University history, having received virtually all of the university’s teaching and research awards, including:

  • Outstanding Teacher, College of Arts & Sciences
  • Diversity Award (with the Black Gospel Music Preservation Program)
  • Cornelia Marschall Smith Award for Outstanding Professor at Baylor University
  • Outstanding Researcher, College of Arts & Sciences
  • Diversity Award
  • In 2021, he was named Emeritus Professor of Journalism, Public Relations & New Media
  • In May 2021, Darden was selected by the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation as a Piper Professor for the state of Texas. He is only the 12th Baylor professor so honored.
  • In 2020, he was named Baylor University’s 27th Master Teacher.


Darden is also the co-founder of the Black Gospel Music Preservation Program at Baylor (BGMPP), the world’s largest initiative to identify, acquire, scan, digitize, catalog and make accessible America’s fast-vanishing legacy of vinyl from gospel music’s “Golden Age.” The BGMPP provides the gospel music for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington D.C.


Darden was named “Wacoan of the Year” by The Wacoan Magazine in 2011. In 2020, he was named “Distinguished Alumni” of the Baylor Line Foundation.


He will serve as chief consultation on Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s upcoming four-part documentary series for PBS, “The History of Black Gospel Music & Preaching.”


He and his wife, Dr. Mary Landon Darden, live in Waco, Texas. They have three children and four grandchildren.

Robert Marovich

A close collaborator and early supporter of this project is Chicago-based collector and scholar Robert Marovich. Baylor University Libraries is deeply appreciative and thankful for Mr. Marovich's invaluable assistance by granting access to his extensive collection of American black gospel music recordings for use in the BGMPP.

The success of the Black Gospel Music Preservation Program would not have been possible without the early support of the program by gospel music historian, collector, and radio host, Robert Marovich. Mr. Marovich has generously opened his rare collection to the program so his collection may be digitally preserved, cataloged, and placed in the digital collection. We are grateful for his selfless contributions to the program and his academic contributions to this important musical genre.


Read Mr. Marovich’s bio here:


Robert M. Marovich is a gospel music historian, author, and radio host. “Gospel Memories,” a radio program of classic gospel, spiritual, and jubilee music, airs on Chicago’s WLUW-FM and throughout the week on Internet, low-power FM, and terrestrial radio stations.

Bob also writes about gospel music on the Journal of Gospel Music.  The website, formerly known as The Black Gospel Blog, received a Rhythm of Gospel Award in 2021. He appears in the award-winning documentary How We Got Over (One State Films) and has been interviewed for several other radio and film documentaries, including for the BBC, PBS, and for WXPN’s Peabody Award-nominated Gospel Roots of Rock and Soul, which aired on more than 200 public radio stations in February 2019.


Bob’s work has been published in the Encyclopedia of American Gospel Music (Routledge 2005), Encyclopedia of African American Music (Greenwood Publishing 2010), and in the ARSC Journal of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections. He routinely contributes book reviews to the ARSC Journal and music reviews to Living Blues and Blues & Rhythm: The Gospel Truth magazines. Bob has also had articles published in the Chicago Reader, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. He was nominated for Grammy Awards in the Best Album Notes category for his work on The Gospel According to Malaco (Malaco 2019) and The King of Gospel Music: The Life and Music of Reverend James Cleveland (Malaco 2021).


His first book, A City Called Heaven: Chicago and the Birth of Gospel Music, was published in March 2015 by the University of Illinois Press as part of its Music in American Life Series. It received a 2016 Certificate of Merit in Historical Sound Recorded Research from the Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC) and was named one of the best nonfiction books of 2015 by the Chicago Book Review. His book about the best-selling gospel album, Peace Be Still: How James Cleveland and the Angelic Choir Created a Gospel Classic, was published by the University of Illinois Press in November 2021. It also received a Certificate of Merit from ARSC.


Bob graduated cum laude from the University of Notre Dame in 1985 and earned an MBA from the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management in 2002. He is a member of the board of directors of the Institute for the Preservation of African American Music and Arts in Milwaukee.


Please visit our Wall of Honor to see the full list of supporters.

Support the project with a financial gift.

The BGMPP and the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History & Culture :

The BGMPP and the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History & Culture :

We are proud to be partners with the NMAAHC, the newest museum of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Materials from the BGMPP are featured in the museum's Musical Crossroads permanent exhibit.


Learn more about the BGMPP and the NMAAHC by reading our blog post here.

Map of BGMPP-Related Recording Locations :

Map of BGMPP-Related Recording Locations :

Voices & Vinyl :

Voices & Vinyl :

Voices & Vinyl is an annual concert hosted by the Baylor Libraries and featuring performances by student groups giving their unique, updated interpretations of recorded Black gospel songs. Since 2015, Voices & Vinyl has showcased the talents of the Heavenly Voices Gospel Choir, an a capella choir whose modern takes on classic gospel songs have entertained V&V audiences on campus, in the Waco community, and via a virtual concert experience in 2021.



Watch the 2019 performance here

User Notes :

User Notes :

Copyright Information

As a result of the preservation work of the Black Gospel Music Preservation Program, these recordings are presented here free for personal, non-commercial use as a contribution to education and scholarship. Baylor University does not own the rights in this collection and therefore cannot grant or deny permission to distribute material in this collection. It is the user's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing music from the BGMPP.

If you have any more information about the music available from the Black Gospel Music Preservation Program, or if you are the copyright owner and believe this collection has not properly attributed your work to you or has used it without permission, we want to hear from you. Please email to get in contact with the project staff, including your contact information and a link to the relevant content.


Learn More


To learn more about the BGMPP, please visit the project homepage. You'll find information on the project's history, how to loan/donate materials, and how to support the project financially.



Using This Resource In Your Research?

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Activity Note


This collection is considered an active collection. Items will be added periodically as they are acquired by Baylor University and processed through the Digitization and Digital Preservation Group.