The Bell County Museum, located on 201 N Main St. in downtown Belton, hosted “Rejoice! – The Evolution of Black Gospel Music” on Saturday evening to highlight the relevance and origins of black gospel music in celebration of February being Black History Month.

The event, which featured both music and lectures regarding the history of the genre, saw a room packed full of guests.

The ceremony opened with musical performances from several area church choirs and vocal groups, and attendees were nothing short of enthusiastic, continually affirming performers and grooving along with the melody.

Songs chosen ranged from old, conventional tunes; one of which was supposedly sang by Harriet Tubman and those embarking on the Underground Railroad to escape slavery in the 1800s, to less recognized, yet still just as impactful expressions.

“The music just has a special place in my heart,” said Thomas King. “It really is just so underappreciated.”

Louis Markleburg made a similar assertion and offered further input.

“While this sort of stuff isn’t necessarily mainstream, the group that does follow it is very attached and committed,” Markleburg said. “Sure, I wish more people were intrigued, but I know most people would enjoy this kind of music if they just gave it a chance.”

Proceeding the musical performances, a line of speakers educated audience members on the historical significance of gospel music and its impact on African American culture in honor of Black History Month.

The event proved to be an enjoyable learning experience for guests; many of whom were not shy in expressing their gratitude.

“I am very pleased with the way this has been put on,” Loretta Smith said. “One thing that I think we should all appreciate is the representation of all races here. It gives me hope to know that people of all colors are passionate about our culture.”