25 Best Black Gospel Songs To Hear Now

25 Best Black Gospel Songs For Worship Leaders 2023

I love the sounds of Hezekiah Walker, Anthony Evans, Kirk Franklin, and Israel Houghton. These black gospel artists bring a power and spirit I can only dream of replicating when I lead worship.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t listen to and enjoy these songs. That’s why I put together this list of 25 black gospel songs that we should all be listening to despite our backgrounds or typical listening preferences.

Here goes.

In Jesus Name – Israel & New Breed

From a musician’s perspective, Israel Houghton has some of the most interesting rhythms and instrumentation of any artist anywhere. I’m glad he’s one of ours. But even to the casual listener, you can’t help but move your feet and bob your head to this one.

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See You Again – Anthony Evans

This song knocked me out when I first heard it. I decided this was the gospel song I was finally going to try in my church. So we got the (predominantly white) worship team together, rehearsed it like crazy. Yep, it came out like a long-lost U2 song. Nothing like the original. Even though we couldn’t replicate the song’s majesty and power, I still like listening to it often. Evans brings insane intensity and vocal prowess to this number. Whether or not you go to church or believe in God, you’ll be one step closer to the Almighty after hearing this masterpiece.

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Way Maker – Sinach.

This is one of those songs that unexpectedly takes the world by storm. Nearly every worship band and major Christian artist has covered it by now, and it will continue its rise in 2023. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a farming town in Iowa or urban Los Angeles, or London, England or Lagos, Nigeria. You will worship like never before when you hear it.

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Every Praise – Hezekiah Walker

You see, there’s just certain I can’t pull off when I lead worship. Like call and response. Walker performs this masterfully. He naturally calls out and leads the choir (and the onlookers in this video) with the spoken word. If I were to try this, it would sound more like Weird Al Yankovic calling out the next line of my latest polka. Props to Hez.

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You Are Good – Israel Houghton

There’s a reason this guy’s named after the Promised Land. That’s exactly where he takes you with his high-energy vocals and ridiculously good guitar playing. This is one of my all-time favorite worship songs of any style. Now I only wish I could do it justice!

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Anything Can Happen – Jonathan Nelson

You know, there’s just something about a strong worship leader. Anyone can be a song leader, but it takes a special anointing to lead people in worship. Jonathan Nelson brings worship leading to the next level with this song. He all but takes the congregation by the hand into the Lord’s presence. No matter what your background, you can learn something from this guy.

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Shackles (Praise You) – Mary Mary

I still remember hearing this song on secular radio when it first came out. It’s a purely pop song and worship song at the same time. I’m not sure how Mary Mary did that, but I’d sure like to do that someday.

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No Weapon – Fred Hammond

Hammond brings serious encouragement to the believer with “No Weapon.” I love it when a worship leader teaches and lifts up a congregation. God wants every worship leader to lead his people as skillfully as Hammond does here.

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You Deserve It – JJ. Hairston & Youthful Praise

One thing that most predominantly white churches haven’t figured out yet is how to build and use a choir. In this tune, JJ Hairston uses his choir to bring a new power through call and response. Truly inspiring!

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Your Spirit – Tasha Cobbs Leonard ft. Kierra Sheard

There’s nothing better than listening to strong women lead in worship. Leonard and Sheard absolutely wreck you with this powerhouse tune.

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O Come to the Altar – Israel Houghton & Elevation Worship

Psalm 133:1 says “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (ESV). Houghton and one of my favorite bands, Elevation Worship, team up and demonstrate how the best of two genres of worship can be combined with fantastic results. Why shouldn’t worship be a unifying tool to so that congregations can better “dwell in unity”?

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Your Love – William Murphy

Why can’t I work the stage like William Murphy? Drenched in sweat, walking every inch of the stage, speaking and singing into the lives of the congregation. In my dreams.

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You’re Bigger – Jekalyn Carr

A tour de force about the magnitude of God, “You’re Bigger” blasts the misconception that your problem is bigger than God. I love Carr’s passion. She sings faith into existence when you don’t have any left.

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You Are Here – William McDowell

This song is another mind-blowing example of a true worship leader at work. McDowell brings a new power as he leads his massive ensemble and congregants. The idea of call and response is an unpracticed art for me and most majority-white churches. It’s something I’d like to get better at. The first step is to have a very solid set of support vocals who can carry the tune and feel of the song, so that the leader can lead and ad lib. What an inspiration this song is.

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Victory – Yoland Adams

Ok. Mind blown. This is one of those songs that you think about doing for about 2 seconds and then decide against it because you could never do it justice. There are so many elements here. First of all, I could never coordinate a choir to sound this good and dance like this at the same time. Second, Yolanda Adams’ stage presence is so natural and intriguing that you can’t help being pulled in. Third, I’ve never heard a strings section so funky. Once I started watching this video, I couldn’t stop!

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I Need You Now – Smokie Norful

Smokie Norful is a testament that talent inside the church is as plentiful as it is outside. In fact, many of today’s secular stars got their start singing in church. Norful is a John Legend-like talent whose piano and vocal work in this song leave me wishing I could sound the same.

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Awesome – Pastor Charles Jenkins & Fellowship Chicago

This is just good old-school get-you-out-of-your-seat worship.

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To God be the Glory – Andrae Crouch

This is a classic from a pioneer in worship music. This song transcends style, background, and culture. I remember singing it in my majority-white church as a kid. This is a unique song in that it’s powerful no matter how you do it.

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Breathe – Byron Cage

Unlike most of the other songs on this list, this is one I’ve done hundreds of times going back even to when I was leading worship in youth group. The encouraging reminder that Byron Cage’s rendition brings about is that you can put your own twist to any song and make it great. The songs of God are bigger than style and culture.

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I Need You – Donnie McClurkin

I was really surprised when I ran into this song. It’s like a rock band meets gospel choir meets big tent revival. McClurkin isn’t afraid to lead out. Instrumentally, I think my worship band could replicate this sound. But vocally — that’s near impossible.

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A God Like You – Kirk Franklin

There’s plenty of room in today’s worship sets for happy tunes. I’m not sure why, but most of today’s worship songs are either dirges or power ballads. Well, here’s a happy song to help fill that gap. And if I were as talented as Mr. Franklin, I might do this one in my church.

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Good & Bad – J Moss

You know it’s a good worship song when the singer, in the middle, starts ad-libbing about when your phone stops ringing and no one wants to hang out with you. This isn’t a song, it’s a sermon. I think many worship leaders are afraid to weave teaching and encouragement into the song. J Moss is a master at the technique.

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Alright – Lowell Pye

If I could only do this song justice, I would be feeling alright too.

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Boasting – Lecrae + Anthony Evans

Who says worship music and rap don’t mix? Why can’t God’s people reach out with spoken word just as well as with singing? There’s no difference in God’s eyes. Rap is still a long way off from making it into mainstream worship services  (especially white-predominant churches) but it’s coming. So get ready.

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Jesus the Same – Israel & New Breed

Yes, please! Where was I when God was handing out this kind of talent?

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Better – Hezekiah Walker

Hezekiah Walker looks like he’s having so much fun in whatever he does. I’d love to have more joy like this when I lead worship.

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>>More Suggestions from Readers<<

Here are even more black gospel songs suggested by readers in the comments below. Have an idea? Submit your suggestion below.

I’ll Just Say Yes – Brian Courtney Wilson

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Everlasting God – William Murphy

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No Ordinary Worship – Kelontae Gavin

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Amazing – Ricky Dillard

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He’s Alive – Eddie James

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Diversity Is The Key To Full Worship Of God

I hope you enjoyed this totally non-comprehensive list of powerful black gospel songs. If I missed any, add them in the comments section below.

One final thought: Some people wonder why there are different styles of music.

It’s the same reason there are different kinds of people. The fullness of God can’t be expressed with one style alone. If all churches and songs were “white guy U2-style rock worship,” God wouldn’t be fully honored. Nor could we fully express God with black gospel alone.

We need these types, plus Norteño from Mexico and the rhythmic styles of Africa, and everything in between.

Revelation 7:9-10 says (ESV)

Behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

There’s nothing more beautiful in God’s ears than every style, genre, language, and culture praising him, each in their own way.

One group shouldn’t feel inadequate because they can’t pull off another style or genre. When we can’t do something, it just means that God has raised up another who will powerfully excel in it.

>> Want to grow as a worship leader? Subscribe to my podcast – Worship Leader 101 – here. <<

Featured image by Richie Lugo on Unsplash

71 thoughts on “25 Best Black Gospel Songs For Worship Leaders 2023”

  1. I’m reading this article and the comments here in 2023. Love the list. Glad you noted that it is not exhaustive but rather a good start. And it is a good start. I am also glad you took a moment to drop some biblical knowledge about diversity being a part of God’s design from the very beginning… and it was good. The spirit of offense is alive and well in the world but it doesn’t have to be so in the body. I recently heard it said that it is impossible to be both offended and curious at the same time. The statement is very true. When engaging others we cannot be at once offended and curious. Rather than instantly being offended (or assuming offense on behalf another) it helps to start by asking a question, like why might this music be labeled in such a way? Many have already very clearly articulated and accurately given answer to why Black Gospel music came to be and is called such. Another good question might be why is it still necessary ? A good answer might be 1) you cannot go back and undo what was however you can embrace what is and the embodiment of perseverance signified 2) distinction is still necessary since for example while Sinach is in the list you will most often not find her or other African Gospel artists/songs by searching Black Gospel as that is typically (though not exclusively) referring to Black/AA gospel artists/songs and will leave you dry if you are looking for African Gospel music and artists like Judikay, Ada Ehi, Ty Bello, Mercy Chinwo, Victor Thompson, or Nathaniel Bassey just to name a few.
    It is possible to hold to the good that has come from a very negative past with distinction and joy giving glory to God while still acknowledging where we are, and any growth or progress that has occured (Can I get a glory to God shout for groups like Maverick City?!!) and having hope for all that could be (what will we see and hear in the years to come?).
    Its the tension of life people. Embrace it. Just as we must have tension to create the beautiful moving music that we do. Just as it is necessary for us to grow rather than becoming complacent in our walk. TENSION.

  2. You see with the description of the song form and nature, it ultimately sounds like what I’ve been looking for, for years…. but surprisingly and amazingly I came across this… from those vocal intensity, ad-libbing and passion you mentioned i know this is it…from the joy deep within my heart that knows no bound…I say thank you for this compilation🔥💯

  3. Definitely should check out “Snoop Dogg Presents: Bible of Love”! Incredible Black Gospel album with many of the artist listed in your article.

    1. Thank you for this post! I totally agree on the importance of taking advantage of the diverse range of styles in worship music. As a black American church musician, I appreciate your openness to check out other styles and incorporate them when possible. I strive to do the same: )

  4. Honey, as Vickie Winans said in one of her songs, “Long as I got King Jesus I don’t need nobody else.” Don’t worry that you can’t do the things that a lot of these artists are doing.

    1. Thank you. I am receiving similar comments which is encouraging. God called all kinds of people to worship so we all need to worship how we feel comfortable. I’m just glad there are other styles and abilities than my own.

  5. To God our Father, His Son our Saviour & Redeemer & the Holy Ghost our Keeper be ALL PRAISE, WORSHIP, HONOR & GLORY!!!

    Thank you for sharing these awesome & amazing P&W Songs that magnify & reverence our Lord!

    God bless!!! 🎶 Don’t stop, don’t quit the praise!!! 🎤

  6. Love the song, Every Praise. Hezekiah Walker singing it. Awesome! We sing it in Timberlake Church of God in Fayetteville, NC. It was off the wall! God always moved greatly in it. The Pastor and his wife were both powerful singers! The heavens would roll back and we would be in the Throne Room Praising God! So happy to find This Black Gospel Music with Hezekiah Walker. He truly knows how to worship the Lord and bring you into His presence.

  7. God is a God of color and uniqueness. Otherwise there wouldn’t be diversity. “In the beginning, God created…”

  8. If you don’t put “Black” gospel or “Black” Praise & Worship then when you search you’ll get Hillsong, Grace, Balestreri, Toby Mac and other contemporary gospel artists. Nothing wrong if that’s what you’re looking for, but if you want McDowell, Green, Cobbs, etc, then you have to specify what kind of gospel. I like all kinds of gospel music and I have to search by that…Hip-Hop gospel, Caribbean Gospel, Reggae Gospel, Gospel jazz, etc….So “Black” Gospel not offensive, just descriptive….God Bless!

  9. Caseline JENKINS

    I was almost sorry I read reviews, until i realized I was allowing someone else’s thoughts to infiltrate the wonderful feeling with the Almighty in song. To me, the songs give sermon. Won’t allow rebuttals in my box while I’m with Him.

  10. Thanks for this list, and all your comments, remember there is no confusion in GOD message, please read PSALM 133:1. May God continue to Bless you all and keep you all again thank you.

  11. Oh, I forgot to say, try Todd Galberth. That man ministers Holy Spirit truths through his songs with an undeniable passion similar to some of the above but with less notoriety.

  12. Hi, thanks for your list! I loved it, especially since many of the lists with gospel music from Christians who look like me contain the same songs.

    FYI, black gospel is indeed not offensive because, just as something different will come from oil painting and watercolor painting, something different will come from black gospel, southern gospel, and the other variants of gospel. It took me time to learn that black people don’t own the term “gospel,” but we don’t.

    I do want to say that you ended with a great point about the importance of diversity, but your post was littered with language of inadequacy. Please, be careful about the things you’re telling yourself and the example for your readers so there is a spirit of confidence and joy in the gifts God has given each of you rather than a preoccupation with or coveting of another person’s talents.

    1. Thank you! And great point about not looking down on anyone’s gifts, even your own. I often feel that I would love more of this and more of that as a worship leader, but thanks for pointing out that everyone has a role to play in the kingdom, and everyone has a special way of ministering.

  13. Thank you for sharing❤️ I don’t know how I found this but I’m glad I did. It was God sent as I was looking for more songs to add to my list.

  14. Otobong Akpan

    Tim, I really appreciate your work. I am a fan of Afrian American gospel songs. I keep searching for new songs every day.

    With all due respect Raven, I don’t think the tile “Black gospel” is offensive as that was what i used to search for this online.

    Please if anyone have new black gospel songs for 2019, kindly send the title of the song and artist to me on [email protected].
    Thank you

  15. People will miss the message, wasting time disecting & overanalyzing the message and the messenger. Title the music whatever way makes YOU comfortable amd lets focus on Jesus and these annointed voices!

  16. Searching for a song that was popular on the radio in the early 60s.
    Redemption story – a line went like this: sometimes I’m worried, don’t know what to, down on my knees, with bow head I cream, so please dear Jesus. …

  17. Christian Malale

    Hey folks. Maybe you can help me. I heard, late last year, a song called “Strong Hands”. I downloaded it, then I lost my phone. I can’t find the song again. Everytime I type the title it gives me all sorts of other songs. It goes like “tell me why do you weep, when God’s able to (keep?), etc. Please help? Who sang it? Thanks and God bless.

  18. Two of my favorite songs are “You are an everlasting God”by William Murphy and”This ain’t no ordinary Worship,” by Kelontae Gavin.

  19. Amazing by Ricky Dillard + New Power Generation along with Tiff Joy ..powerful!!!.. You Waited and Intentional by Travis Greene … powerful!!! Forever and I am by Jason Nelson! Powerful!!!

  20. Just stumbled upon this great article…awesome! “You are Good…” the iconic Andrae Crouch???!!!! You are really speaking to me with this wonderful introduction to some and reminder of other inspiring pieces of praise & worship music. Many thanks!

  21. This is Black Gospel Music and it definitely is NOT OFFENSIVE. It is our heritage to have be soulful and different. I pray that this world would STOP with the negative and using race as a crutch to bring things down. This world was made with color for a reason.

  22. I don’t think defining this music as “black gospel” is offensive at all. I am part of a predominantly white organization, and we needed more upbeat music for our retreat. And I love the idea of a cultural mix of music.

  23. He’s Alive by Eddie James is a really good songs. It’s up beat and it’s an easy song to play and sing. My church sings it regularly and we love it.

  24. I can’t stop playing “My Help” and Richard Smallwood’s “Thank You” “Total Praise” and “Healing.”…well anything Smallwood.

  25. You’re missing Pastor John P. Kee from this list…Jesus is Real, Wash Me, Standing in the Need, New Life, Clap Your Hands…just a sampling of his hits…

  26. Don’t matter what’s it called only matters that it’s out there teaching and praising Jesus Christ and our voice in the wilderness… Praise GOD for black gospel… It’s full of life and makes me listen to God and His message.

  27. Each of theses songs lead u right into the presence of God. Each of the artist are truly anointed by God, to usher in the spirit of God. Keep it coming God! Keep it coming!

    1. Thanks for your comment. “Black gospel” is how people are searching for these songs online — presumably by African Americans. Just saying Gospel music can mean any Christian music of any style and is not very descriptive. “Southern Gospel” is just about the opposite of black gospel, for instance, so there needed to be some clarity here. But I understand where you’re coming from.

  28. Osusu Godswill

    Wow… This is somewhat of a list to be explored by me… I’m gonna dive in to each of them. I really appreciate the emails from Worship deeper. Y’all have been great. Thanks.

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