The Significance of Negro Spiritual Music

Negro Spiritual music highlights both religious and musical traditions for the African American community. Much like Folk Music, Negro Spiritual emphasizes storytelling and expression. Negro Spiritual songs were experiences of those who were enslaved. Negro Spiritual has influenced much of music throughout history, and it is still utilized in modern day music. 

It is interesting to learn the history of Negro Spiritual music and its significance to those who were enslaved as well as observe how genres of music continue to influence other genres. As I learn more about Negro Spiritual music, I see that it had many uses for those enslaved such as storytelling/ expression, religious meaning, and even aiding them in getting through the days. Negro Spirituals and other genres continue to demonstrate that music has always been an outlet for people. 


Similar to previous discussions of Folk Music, Negro Spiritual music played an important role in allowing those who were enslaved to express themselves. Negro Spiritual has no origin date, but it does serve as one of the first forms of religious music for African Americans. Negro Spiritual was characterized by call-responses, hand clapping, stomping, shouts, etc. Some Negro Spiritual songs included double entendres, which are songs that had double meaning: spiritual and nonspiritual

As a means of expressions and religious involvement, those who were enslaved did whatever was necessary to attend praise meetings; in the South, this happened at the “Invisible Church”, and in the North, it happened at independent Black churches. 



As mentioned, Negro Spiritual music not only served as a form of religious practice, but it also provided those who were enslaved a form of expression. With coming to the New World, those who were enslaved endured a lot as well as had to change and adjust to a lot. As a result of African Americans converting to Christianity, Negro Spiritual was created.

While reading about Negro Spiritual music, I compared it to Gospel music of today. I noticed that many aspects of Negro Spiritual are still used, such as hand-clapping, stomping, call-responses, shouts, etc. It is interesting that certain characteristics of the music remained throughout time and generations. The music of back then is very influential to the creators of today. The music symbolizes freedom, expression, spirituality, and resilience. As we learn more about music that was created a long time ago, one thing is clear: music is created, passed down, and incorporated into the music and genres we currently listen to. Music does so much for people now as it did back them. It brings me joy that the music of our people prevails.  

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