The Cultural Roots of Hip Hop

The History of Hip Hop Hip Hop first emerged in largely African American, Afro-Caribbean, and Latino communities of the Bronx and then spread to Harlem and other boroughs of New York City in the early 1970s.  It is a creative expression, sensibility, and aesthetic that encompasses a wide range of performance expressions, including graffiti, break […]

The Evolution of Gospel Music

Following the Great Migration of Blacks from the agrarian South in the period surrounding World Wars I and II to urban cities, Gospel music evolved as the twentieth-century form of African American religious music.  Despite the fact that the musical foundation for this genre was laid in several contexts during the first quarter of the […]

Atlantic Records: R&B

Rhythm and blues evolved during World War II and is a form of Black dance music.  Its development is associated with economic, demographic, and social changes that occurred in American society during the 1940s and 1960s.  Primarily recorded by small, regional independent record labels, the term “rhythm and blues” was first used as a marketing […]

Black and Blues

The term “blues” was used to identify a new type of song emerging from Black communities in the southern United States by the end of the first decade of the twentieth century.  New and different from formal musical characteristics, this timeless music reflected pain, sadness, and feeling blue.  Blues music seemed to simultaneously turn up […]

Jazz Music: John Coltrane

During the twentieth century, Jazz was widely regarded as the pinnacle of African American music, distinguished by its professionalism and artistry, the originality and improvisation, and the virtuosity and erudition of its performers and composers.  Many regard jazz as the “African American classical music,” as the respectability acquired by jazz goes in stark contrast to […]

Norfolk Jubilee Quartet

Background A jubilee quartet is historically defined as a vocal ensemble that consisted of a minimum of four voices and a maximum of six voices, performing formal arrangements of spirituals and jubilee songs in a four-part harmony.  This was done in an a cappella style with an emphasis on a percussive and rhythmic style of […]

Negro Spirituals For the Soul of African American Culture

Background The spiritual was the earliest form of religious music to develop among African Americans in the United States.  As the genre of Spirituals came from slavery, it reflected ideals tempered by the cultural, social, and physical experience of the prolonged servitude and it symbolized the unique expression that the slave population had of Christian […]

The African American Development of Folk Music

Origins of Folk Music The influence of folk music on contemporary African American music has been immeasurable. There are features that look at African American music as a part of African cultural continuum, and they represent struggles and sorrows, but also empowerment and perseverance. As soon as Africans came to the New World, a gradual […]