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Prosecutors in Alabama said on Wednesday that they were dropping a manslaughter charge against a woman over the death of the fetus she was carrying when she was shot in the belly, in a case that stirred national outrage.

Likewise, Negro Spirituals and the black gospel tradition are legendary—birthing such towering figures as Aretha Franklin and Sam Cooke. But that history has often been turned into stereotype, an easy reference for down-home authenticity. Divorced from their roots, easy evocations of African American gospel glide over a complex tapestry of syncretism and synchronicity, innovation and preservation, and the building of local and national communities with a global scope and presence.