Baylor University Opens Its New Black Gospel Archive & Listening Center

When the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project (BGMRP) was launched at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, in 2006, its physical presence was limited to a small space in Moody Memorial Library. Now, some 15 years later, the BGMRP has a digital presence encompassing thousands of archival recordings, a place in a permanent exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American Heritage and Culture, and now a state-of-the-art archive and listening center to house its permanent collection.

The Black Gospel Music Restoration Project at Baylor is 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 Black Gospel Archive & Listening Center was unveiled during a grand opening and dedication ceremony on November 12, in the garden level of Moody Memorial Library. The Black Gospel Archive & Listening Center features storage space for thousands of physical items, including LPs, 45rpm discs and cassettes, as well as researcher computer stations and a custom work desk. The centerpiece of the space is a Framery brand sound isolation pod, which features high-end audio equipment and a full keyboard for researchers who want to play along with sheet music or recordings from the collection.

“We could not be more excited to open this space to the people of Waco, our Baylor community, and researchers from around the world,” said Jeffry Archer, dean of University Libraries. “With every step along the way, from initial idea to the finishing touches, we have focused on respectful representations of African American culture, a commitment to the finest in technology and décor, and a spirit of welcome and inclusion for any and all who want to research and encounter this amazing collection of American heritage.”

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