The Folk genre is one of the earliest forms of secular music created by enslaved Africans in America. It paved the way for other genres like Ragtime, Blues, Jazz, and more!
Within Folk music, there were sub-genres like the call and response song structure. In this structure, a singer or instrumentalist would perform the melody of a song and everyone else would respond accordingly. When the statement and answer would overlap it was considered antiphony.
Above is a picture named the “Lynchburg Negro Dance” depicting people dancing and playing instruments including the banjo, fiddle, and bones.
The enslaved people combined the music from their African heritage and the examples from Europeans to create this genre distinctive of what was now considered African American.
The Folk genre was among the start of Black people making a way out of no way. Through this music, we were able to escape the pains of slavery and maintain our sense of self. No inhumane ship transportation or degradation on the plantations could stop us from relieving ourselves by way of music.
Above is a picture of Solomon Northup, an American abolitionist and the author of Twelve Years a Slave. Oftentimes, the creation and contributions we made in the Folk genre were purposefully overlooked; his narrative in the novel helped spread folk music through a black lens despite white people’s attempted erasure of our history in the music.
Overall, the Folk music genre was integral in the beginnings of protests against treatment in slavery. This secular music illustrated our power to portray excellence in any environment.