Saint Louis University

The African American Studies Program will host the latest of its Brown Bag Series from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, in room 218 of McGannon Hall. Lerone Martin, Ph.D., will present "Selling to the Souls of Black Folk: The Phonograph and the Making of Modern African American Religion, 1920-1945." Martin is assistant professor of history of American religion and culture at Eden Theological Seminary.


This talk traces the novelty of the phonograph in American life and the resulting phenomenon of African American Protestant clergy garnering record contracts from major labels (Columbia, Paramount, etc.) to record and sell their sermons during the early decades of the 20th century. This account offers a historical view of the substance and form of black religious practices during the modern period and thus the major trends that undergird contemporary African American religion, religious celebrity and commodification.