Tune in Tonight: Gates presents ‘Gospel’

Ready for some joyful noise? Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. (“Finding Your Roots”) hosts the two-night, four-hour documentary series “Gospel” (9 p.m., PBS, TV-PG, check local listings, concluding Tuesday). It surveys and celebrates the history and evolution of the musical genre from its roots during the Great Migration of Southern Blacks to northern industrial cities in the early 20th century to its contemporary popularity.

Much like the Ken Burns’ 2019 documentary history “Country Music,” this special explores a musical genre that went from being defined by specific cities and regions to becoming an international sound. Both series pay particular attention to the ways that the evolution of the music business in the 20th century, from sheet music to early recordings and the birth of radio and then television, affected the genre’s growth and popularity.

Being based in the Black church and considered sacred music, gospel musicians faced conflicting attitudes toward introducing popular elements into the music. New arrivals to cities like Chicago also faced some social and economic snobbery from established churches that saw performing European classical music as a way to distance themselves from Southern sounds and “country” ways.

After World War I, recorded music offered many genres of ethnic music to appeal to immigrants and “race” music aimed at a Black audience. This allowed more blues- and jazz-influenced gospel singers to gain audiences both inside and outside of the church circuit.

“Gospel” offers a series of profiles whose styles and choices influenced the direction of gospel music. Popular singer Mahalia Jackson was first considered too secular-sounding for some churches, but her decision to record only sacred music had a profound impact. She became a best-selling recording artist, appearing on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and in movies including “Imitation of Life” and “Jazz on a Summer’s Day.” But she sang only about God, a decision that gave such music a huge secular audience.

In contrast, Sam Cooke, of the gospel group the Soul Stirrers, did not resist the temptation to go pop. But even as Cooke became a superstar, people could hear the gospel influence in his hit records.

In addition to exploring church music, “Gospel” explores the musicality of preaching styles that evolved along with the music. It profiles Detroit minister C.L. Franklin, whose soaring sermons were recorded and sold all over America, making him an influential preacher and a Detroit power broker whose church and home became a familiar gathering place for the civil rights organizers of the mid-20th century.

The same recording engineers who turned Franklin’s sermons into best-selling LPs captured the sacred music performances of his 14-year-old daughter, launching the gospel, pop, jazz and soul music legend Aretha Franklin.

— Blending audiences’ insatiable appetite for true-crime and a familiar reality series, the ABC News Studio-produced Hulu documentary “The Housewife and the Hustler 2: The Reckoning” looks at the fraud allegations against former lawyer Tom Girardi, the estranged husband of a “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” participant.


— “America’s Got Talent: Fantasy League” (8 p.m., NBC, TV-PG).

— Joey makes the most of the Malta setting of this season of “The Bachelor” (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).

— A “Star Wars” collectible stands out on “Antiques Roadshow” (8 p.m., PBS, TV-G, check local listings).

— A woman struggles to save her husband’s Italian restaurant in the 2022 romance “Always Amore” (8 p.m., Hallmark, TV-G).

— Torres turns the tables on the man who put his family through misery on “NCIS” (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14).

— “TMZ Investigates” (9 p.m., Fox, TV-14) recalls a murder linked to the OnlyFans site.

— Tennant prepares her return to work on “NCIS: Hawai’i” (10 p.m., CBS, TV-14). LL Cool J guest stars as Sam Hanna, reprising his role from “NCIS: Los Angeles.”

— Alec’s team confronts a man in prison for a church bombing on “The Irrational” (10 p.m., NBC, TV-14).

— “Bad Romance: A Special Edition of 20/20” (10 p.m., ABC) explores a tangled web.


A Roman centurion (Richard Burton) is transformed by a garment said to have been worn by the crucified Christ in the 1953 widescreen religious melodrama “The Robe” (10 p.m., TCM, TV-PG), co-starring Jean Simmons and Victor Mature.


Growing pains on “The Neighborhood” (8 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) … John Walsh returns to “America’s Most Wanted” (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14) … Corrective lenses on “Bob Hearts Abishola” (8:30 p.m., CBS, TV-PG).


Jimmy Fallon welcomes Michael Cera, Maisie Williams, Steve Kornacki and Sophie Ellis-Bextor on “The Tonight Show” (11:35 p.m., NBC) … Beanie Feldstein and Ben Mendelsohn visit “Late Night With Seth Meyers” (12:35 a.m., NBC) … Taylor Tomlinson hosts “After Midnight” (12:35 a.m., CBS).