A Fresh New Voice
on the Contemporary
By Dean M. Shapiro
Whenever the term “gospel music” is heard,
the first thing that comes to most people’s
minds is the high-energy, “old school”
singing style associated with such gospel superstars as
Mahalia Jackson and Shirley Caesar.
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However, over the years, gospel, like all other musical genres, has
gone through changes and adapted to newer, more contemporary
styles. Joanna Hale-McGill ranks high among the current generation
of gospel singers who are bringing the musical art form into the 21st
century; a fresh, emerging voice on the local and national stage.
A self-described “contemporary gospel artist,” Joanna’s singing
career has been on a nonstop roll since winning the “Walmart’s Next
Gospel Superstar” contest at the 2015 Essence Music Festival.
Stylistically she is in tune with present-day trends in the gospel genre:
a smoother, more low-key presentation style that is sometimes mixed
with a more rapid-fire, rap-style delivery and beat.
But, for the benefit of those who prefer to hear the old-style gospel
– usually, those of an older generation – Joanna is adaptable and
accommodating. “I can do both,” she added. “I’m a contemporary
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