What Flavor Do You Like?

(CONGRATULATIONS TO TIKE. He is the winner of the free DVD for commenting on our last blog. Don’t forget to comment!)


We all have certain things that we like to eat because of the flavor that the food has.  The flavor is what makes the food great. Music has different flavors as well.  Some people like the flavor of classical, jazz, blues, rock, etc.  I will give you some examples of what I mean and discuss how to develop the type of flavor in your playing that you would like.

The wonderful thing about gospel music is that many different flavors are accepted by people as great flavors for gospel music.

For example, many of the songs that Richard Smallwood has written has a classical flavor. I have really enjoyed his music down through the years and did you know he studied classical piano in college. His music style reflects his background and training. Can you hear the classical flavor in his playing and in the overall song itself?  The song “Total Praise” has become a gospel music standard and is probably one of his most popular songs.

Kirk Whalum is an awesome musician and is mainly known as a Jazz Musician but he is a christian and also does christian music that has a jazz flavor.  (Side Note – The guy playing the Yamaha Motif Keyboard in the background is Grammy nominated artist John Stoddard. He is an awesome pianist that is very versatile.  I will be playing with him on February 19th. We may get a chance to hang out a little. I’ll try to get some tips from him for you so stay tuned)

Chris Tomlin is a prolific song writer that has written so many hit gospel songs like “How Great Is Our God”.  He has a certain flavor that so many people love.

There are so many wonderful flavors that fall under the umbrella of gospel and christian music. So the question is, “how does one develop in the flavor that they love”.

  • Your sound, style, and approach (YOUR FLAVOR) to music is determined by your background, experiences, environment, and what you listen to.

I have a background in a small pentecostal church in the south and I also later studied jazz and classical music. My personal style seems to be a combination of all three. I am learning other styles as well, so my flavor is evolving.

  • If you want to be more jazzy in your playing, you should listen to more jazz musicians and study them.
  • If you want to have more of a classical flavor, then you should listen to more classical music and study it.

What you are around and listen to on a regular basis will become a part of you and you will naturally gravitate towards that in your mental concept of how music should sound and in how you personally try to play it. It is a very natural thing that happens.

You have to expose yourself to the kind of music that you yourself want to play. It needs to become a part of you. The keys are listening and studying. You have to learn new things!

I would love to hear about the flavor that you play with or aspire to play with.






  1. my vision is for a global sound. a kingdom sound that can reach all. and i caught hold to this vision when i met professor iris stevenson. i mean she can play anything from gospel to jazz, classical to latin music, she can do it all. and that what im striving for. a sound that will not limited by 4 wall, but a sound that can saved the unsaved and that can minister to the needs of the believer.

  2. I like to include jazz, classical and even a bit of blues into my gospel music. Can someone suggest some great jazz or blues musicians I can start listening to for ideas

  3. William Ingram says:

    I have to many flavor I enjoy. My all time favorite is Thomas Whitfield arrangement was awesome. Tye tribbet arrangement are also awesome. I enjoy how tye uses different style in his music. And jazz style is another one I like.
    My goal is to have a sound that put people mind at ease and remind them that God handle all things

  4. John Green says:

    I use some jazz styles with old fashioned gospel chords used by James Cleveland, etc. I’ve been using a split keyboard lately to introduce segments of horns with piano & bass…most hymns I have changed such as “God’s Unchanging Hand” which I seem to be the only organist in this area to use a split keyboard and no “Live” drummer…I program all my drum backgrounds and I’m also featured playing my own arrangement of “Walking Up the King’s Highway” on 88.1 FM on Sunday mornings in the New Jersey area. I’ve always been told that when I play for choirs, men’s groups, youth choirs, that everyone knows that it’s me who’s playing! So, I guess I have my own “Flavor” of playing gospel music.

  5. I am a music lover. My flavor is SWEETNESS.What I mean is that the genre does not matter , as long as the music sounds sweet to me, it is my kind of flavor.All I know is that if you want to become a versatile musician you got to be able to play different styles of music, because every category of music has its own characteristics.But, however that may be, I would suggest that you start learning blues if you want to play Gospel and Jazz. As far as I am concerned, learning classical music is also a big help.And if you combine these four types(Blues,Gospel, Jazz and Classical ) trust me you can come up with your OWN / ORIGINAL flavor.

  6. @Troy6363, I’m like you. I’m going back to traditional gospel, but I’m mixing it with blues. I’m listening to Ray Charles. But I’m also listening to old songs by Rev. Cleophus Robinson. His pianist has a great boogie-woogie sound. I think the pianist’s name was Napoleon Brown. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EihiNE_S44k

  7. Flavor ! , it allows a person, to create, and think out of the box.
    Inspiration comes, in a variety of ways. This allow’s us, to prepare, our signature musical dishes.
    I love traditional, urban, and contemporary gospel music. It’s my goal and visions to be able to flip a song, not compromising the melody, but playing skillfully, to create a sound that will touch the very heart and soul of a men.
    While, I’m new to the site. The lessons and resources will take my skills to another level. Thank you, Instructor Hollins, for your musical insight, and stirring up the gift with in me. Be bless.

  8. Bernee Randle says:

    “Flavor”, in my opinion, is the “personality” of your music. Certainly your music is a a reflection of your aggregate influences and experiences, just as your personality is a reflection of the people who influenced you and the sum of your various life experiences. If one wants a more classical “flavor” in her/his music, one must do more than listen to classical music. Playing classical music is essential! So it is with any other “flavor”. One assimilates the “flavor” by actually playing the style over and over.

    John Stoddard, by the way, has recorded some solo work of hymns that exemplify a unique personal style. John Stoddard, Kenny Hollins and Richard Tee are among my favorites. Hear them! Great stuff.


  1. […] the importance of studying the type of music that you want to sound like in your playing in my “What Flavor Do You Like” […]