Darden is the author of two dozen books, most recently: Nothing But Love in God’s Water, Volume II: Black Sacred Music from Sit-In to Resurrection City (Penn State University Press, 2016); 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); Jesus Laughed: The Redemptive Power of Humor (Abingdon Press, 2008); Reluctant Prophets and Clueless Disciples: Understanding the Bible by Telling Its Stories (Abingdon Press, 2006); and People Get Ready! A New History of Black Gospel Music (Continuum/Bloomsbury, 2004).
He founded the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project, the world’s largest initiative to identify, acquire, digitize, categorize and make accessible gospel music from gospel’s Golden Age (1945-1970). The BGMRP provides the gospel music for the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History & Culture.
At Baylor, he has won numerous teaching and research awards, including The Cornelia Marschall Smith Award as Outstanding Professor; the Baylor University Diversity Award; Outstanding Research Professor, College of Arts & Sciences Award; and Baylor Centennial Award.
He is a popular speaker for seminars, conferences and events. His writings have appeared in publications ranging from The New York Times to the Oxford American. He has been featured in hundreds of radio and television programs, including Fresh Air with Terri Gross (NPR), 1A with Joshua Johnson, All Things Considered (NPR), CSPAN, BBC World Service, BBC Outlook, Austrian Public Broadcasting, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. He has also been published in The New Grove Dictionary of American Music, The Cambridge Dictionary of Christianity, the World Book Encyclopedia, the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress and is a frequent contributor to Huffington Post and Christianity Today Online.
Darden spent 20 years as the Senior Editor for The Wittenburg Door and another 15 years as Gospel Music Editor for Billboard Magazine. In 2016, he created the radio insert “Shout! Black Gospel Music Moments” for KWBU-FM Waco. Darden researches, writes, and records the weekly show, which now appears on eight NPR stations, including KERA-FM Dallas.
Industry Expertise (1)
Areas of Expertise (8)
University of North Texas: M.A., Journalism 1978
Baylor University: B.A., Bachelor of Science in Education (Journalism/Art) 1976
Media Appearances (5)
Aretha Franklin’s One Faith
Christianity Today online
In this column, Robert Darden, professor of journalism, public relations and new media in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences, wrote about the life, music and faith of Aretha Franklin, who died Thursday. Darden, who founded Baylor’s Black Gospel Music Restoration Project, wrote that the Queen of Soul’s 2015 performance during the 38th Kennedy Center Honors represented not only her gospel talents, but her emotional transparency and faith. “Standing before the frenzied Kennedy Center audience, singing from somewhere deep inside the pain, Franklin tapped into the gospel music of Jackson and Ward, into the sanctified sermons of her father, into a lifelong belief in one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and came out triumphant and redeemed on the other side,” Darden wrote.
Aretha Franklin's music, legacy lives on
KSAT-TV (San Antonio) tv
Robert Darden, professor of journalism, public relations and new media in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences, and founder of the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project, offered his thoughts on Aretha Franklin’s impact saying the appeal of Franklin's music crossed racial boundaries in a divided era.
Baylor University works to preserve Black Gospel Music
ABC News Channel 25 online
Gospel Music is often thought to be the soundtrack of the African American experience from slavery to sit-ins the music punctuated the movements. Despite the powerful history some scholars feared future generations may never hear those songs.
Baylor Professor Robert Darden, has loved gospel since he was a child. He remembers his father purchasing Mahalia Jackson Christmas album.
“My parents say I kept playing that disk over and over And my wife said I have spent the last 55 years trying to replicate the thrill I got from that voice at that time,” Darden laughed.
Music from Baylor gospel project to be featured in Smithsonian’s new African-American museum
Waco Tribune Herald online
Many of the black gospel recordings that Baylor University professor Bob Darden has championed in his career tell their listeners that patience, faith and endurance on the journey will lead to a reward.
For Darden, Baylor’s Black Gospel Music Restoration Project and their staffers and supporters, one of those rewards comes this month when the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African-American History in Washington, D.C., opens to the public Sept. 24.
Baylor’s Black Gospel Music Restoration Project to be a Highlight in the Sept. 24 Opening of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History in D.C.
Baylor Media Communications online
An interactive display featuring “The Old Ship of Zion,” one of the key recordings of Baylor’s Black Gospel Music Restoration Project (BGMRP), will be among the highlights of the permanent exhibit, called Musical Crossroads.
“Having this music that the team has worked so hard to preserve featured in the museum is beyond wonderful,” said BGMRP founder Robert F. Darden, professor of journalism, public relations and new media in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences.