Baylor University Professor Robert F. Darden is the founder and force behind the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project (BGMRP), the world’s largest initiative to identify, acquire, digitize, catalogue and make available the nation’s fast-vanishing vinyl legacy from gospel music’s “golden age” (1945-1970). The BGMRP provides the music for the Smithsonian’s new National Museum for African American History & Culture in Washington D.C. He is currently working with the Division of Religion in American Life at the NMAAH&C to prepare a three-day symposium and traveling exhibit for the October 2020 exhibition season titled “Black Sacred Rhetoric.”
His work with the BGMRP has been featured on Fresh Air with Terry Gross and virtually every other major NPR program, the BBC, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Austrian Broadcasting Network and literally in hundreds of radio, TV, magazine and newspaper interviews. The BGMRP’s one-of-a-kind, ever-growing collection (now numbering more than 14,000 items) contains more gospel music and sermons than the Library of Congress.
Darden’s books include People Get Ready: A New History of Black Gospel Music (Continuum/Bloomsbury 2005), Nothing But Love in God’s Water, Volume I: Black Sacred Music from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement (Penn State University Press, 2014) and Nothing But Love in God’s Water, Volume II: Black Sacred Music from Sit-Ins to Resurrection City (Penn State University Press 2016). He has written a total of 25 books on a variety of topics. He has appeared in academic journals, the popular magazines, The New York Times, the BBC World Service and he is a regular contributor for Huffington Post, Christianity Today, and The Dallas Morning News, among others.