The Rise of Negro Spirituals

The Rise of the Negro Spirituals
Taking a look back on the creation of Negro Spirituals

Origin and Influences of Negro Spirituals

Negro Spirituals derived from slavery. It symbolized the slave population’s unique expression of Christian religious values and ideals tempered by the social, cultural, and physical experience of prolonged involuntary servitude (Burnim & Maultsby 50). Many slaves were forced into Christianity which created the Negro Spirituals. Slaves used Christianity to create their own songs and music.

Elements of Negro Spirituals

Negro spirituals use similar elements as negro spirituals. Through the music, slaves would use the lyrics to deliver secret messages to others. The main structure of the music was call-and-response. The lead singer would call out a lyric and others would respond with the same lyrics.

Primary Performers/Composers of Negro Spirituals

One main performer of negro spirituals was Marian Anderson. Anderson was known as one of the greatest vocalist of the 20th century. Another performer was Wallis Willis. He is best known for the song, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”.

Socials Implications and Commodification

Negro spirituals allowed slaves to express their religious beliefs and feelings through the lyrics. Slaves didn’t receive any compensation for their songs. Their songs were stolen by their slaveowners and sold. Slaves would get no credit for them, but were still forced to perform for crowds and audiences.

Influence on Other Genres

Negro Spirituals has the biggest influence on Gospel. Slaves would express themselves through their religious beliefs, just as Gospel singers do today.


Negro Spirituals has influenced what we know today as Gospel. Negro Spirituals allowed for slaves to express themselves through the pain and struggles they felt and allows us to get a better understanding of what they felt.

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