African-American Folk Music

Origins of Folk Music

People of African descent have impacted the music culture in the Western Hemisphere. All of the music in the black community stems from the time of Negro Spirituals/ Folk Music. This genre of music was birthed out of slavery and early colored work gangs. While working in the fields or during their times of worship. The music from this genre gave a lot of the enslaved people a sense of hope, but it gave them space to cry out to their God.


There are several elements in the genre of Black Folk Music. To name a few there is call and response, percussion, and improvisation to name a few. African- Americans have capitalized on these different elements in various ways. During the time when fold songs were first established in the United States the element of call and response was manifested through work songs. Often these songs would be a source of strength and encouragement for black people.

Primary Performers

One Black folk singer was Elizabeth Cotten. It wasn;t until she was in her nineties that she was awarded her first grammy award.

Another black folk artist is Kaia Kater, her music is a good example of black folk music from the twenty first century.

Social Implications

Society may see African-American Folk Music as a genre that was birthed out of frustration are weariness, and for the most part that is correct. Folk music was just the basepoint for the black influence on society. After this era of folk music, negro spirituals was the next genre to come out of the black community.


Enslaved people created folk music as an expression of their sorrows and frustration. Their white counters at the time heard this sound and morphed it into something with their image. Creating a facade that folk music in America was something that was created by white people when it was not.


Prior to doing this research I did not think about folk music by black people in depth. I used to think that Negro Spirituals and Black Folk songs were the same, but after taking the time to do my research I could hear the difference between the two genres.

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