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There are three styles of Gospel music that were developed. These styles where developed independently of each other because of racial and physical separation. One style was Mountain Gospel and it was developed in the Southern Appalachian Mountains in Kentucky, southwest Virginia, north-eastern Tennessee and north-western North Carolina. This music (in the past called "hillbilly music") sprang forth from a people living deep in the hills. Bible believing and devoted, religious music formed a major part in the life of these rural peoples not only in their worship services, but as a part of their daily existence as well. The other two styles developed are Black Gospel and Southern (White) Gospel.

The innovation in music that led directly to the emergence of Gospel music is the introduction of "shape-note" musical notation (a form of icon-based, easy to read notation meant to simplify church singing). A driving force behind the system, among rural singers, arose during the 1870s in Virginias Shenandoah Valley. Publishing companies, musical periodicals, and schools dedicated to the furtherance of "seven-shape note singing" sprang up throughout the south. Publishers promoted their songbooks by organizing quartets to travel around singing the publishers songs and selling the songbooks in which the songs appeared.

With the invention of radio & sound recording, makers of this music flocked to radio stations and recording studios to promote themselves. The success of the early Southern Gospel quartets inspired the formation of musical groups of other sizes- duets, trios, and larger ensembles. In time what would be called Southern Gospel music asserted its influence on other musical genres popular in the South. Early country music acts incorporated into their repertoires the brand of gospel music available from shape note sources.

When Bluegrass music emerged as a recognized genre in the late 40s, the Southern Gospel style of singing was among the country music elements from which Bluegrass borrowed. Bluegrass Gospel blends a Southern Gospel and Mountain Gospel derived vocal styles with string band accompaniment as developed by Old-Time bands... There is a transformation of Gospel music from communal property to commercialism. As the early quartets gained fame and grew in professionalism, the communal shape-note singings that gave these artists their first venues were slowly transformed into concerts. Crowds that had come to learn and participate now came to listen and buy early records

Ralph Stanley

Bluegrass Gospel

The term Gospel Music applies to a body of music that was developed in the United States during the twentieth century primary in the south-eastern part of the country and in portions of the Midwest and east. It is a Christian music that was not necessarily developed by the body of Churches, but independently. In other words, the singers and performers where church going people but their music wasn't directly an outgrowth of a Church organization.

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