Terrance Kelly

African American Gospel music

The roots of Gospel music can be traced to 18th century America.  Coming out of an oral tradition, Gospel music typically utilizes a great deal of repetition.  This is a carryover from the time when many 18th century blacks were not allowed to attend school and therefore unable to read.  The repetition of the words allowed those who could not read the opportunity to participate in worship.  During the time, hymns were sung and repeated in a call and response fashion; Negro spirituals and work songs followed this same structure.

Gospel encompasses both church music and rural folk music traditions.  There is a component of saint and sinner in the Gospel genre, encompassing the stylistic characteristics of R&B, jazz, pop, hip hop, blues, classical, country, and even rap.  Gospel may have the widest range of style renderings of any American music because it is often the Christian answer to secular music.

Terrance Kelly learned Gospel music and spirituals from his mother and father.  His mother, Faye Kelly, was a pianist and director of the Gospel choir at Allen Temple Baptist Church and Laney College in Oakland.  His father, Ed Kelly, was a highly-regarded Gospel and jazz pianist.  Terrance was surrounded by singing and Gospel music as he was growing up; he performed with his sisters and a cousin in a group called The Kelly Family Singers.  He was part of the Castlemont High School’s famed Castleers, was a member of the Merritt College Traveling Voices and sang with the Texas south University Concert Choir.  Terrance co-founded the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir in 1986 and is its current Artistic Director.

Terrance was a master artist in ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program in 2012, with apprentice Marcellus Kidd.  Their apprenticeship focused on ensuring Marcellus, the then Youth Intern Director of the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, had a firm understanding of the greater cultural and historical foundation of Gospel music and spirituals, eanbling him to approach his work with cultural authority, achieve high artistic standards, and be an active and effective advocate for the perservation of the form.