Austin Music Map: Mt. Zion Baptist Church
KUT’s Texas Music Matters is partnering with the national Localore initiative to create the Austin Music Map: a yearlong effort to go beyond the well-traveled streets of the Austin music scene in search of the hidden places where music is being made. We want your help discovering and documenting these places. To find out how to get involved, visit the Austin Music Map website or call our hotline with stories and tips: (512) 861-8266.
This week, we hear from Greg Adkins, who regularly books gospel brunches at Threadgill’s and runs The Gospel According to Austin, an organization that aims to discover and celebrate religious music in a city much better known for its rock & roll and country music scenes.
But gospel, Adkins says, is at the root of those other traditions. America’s pop music can be traced—at least in part—to artists who learned their craft in small, obscure, out-of-the-way, mostly Southern country churches, he explains. “And those people worshipped God hard in their music. They clapped hard and they danced hard.”
So when Adkins landed in Austin many years ago, an Oklahoma transplant, he figured that if there was a rich secular music tradition in the city, there was probably a rich gospel scene layered beneath it. “You just kind of have to look for it and dig for it, and so we’ve dug and we’ve found music not just from Austin, but from the wider Texas region.” The Gospel According to Austin has produced compilations featuring groups that span the gospel spectrum—from the Soul Stirrers (originally from Trinity, TX!) to The Bells of Joy, Ruthie Foster, Don Walser, and Tejano legend Ruben Ramos.
All this digging means Adkins is well-acquainted with Austin’s gospel landscape. He described to us how he found his way to the music after growing up in the Methodist church, and one of his favorite places to hear roots gospel on Sunday mornings.
One of the things we’re interested in exploring with the Austin Music Map is the many ways that music informs the Austin experience—and that includes the music that’s central to religious communities in the city. We’ll be attending a few gospel services over the next couple of weeks and producing a story about one of them.
If you have suggestions for places we should check out, let us know! And if you have stories about your own experiences with religious music, we want to hear them. We’ve got a shiny new HOTLINE up and running. You can call (512) 861-8266 and leave messages and tips for us there.