Facts about Folk Music



Interesting Facts

  • The transatlantic slave trade produced African American folk music.

  • In the American folk music scene, the banjo is a key piece of equipment.

  • Africans transported musical instruments like the djembe and banjar to the West through the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

  • During this time, fiddlers, children’s game songs, creole songs, and protest songs helped to develop the secular folk music genre.

  • The banjo continues to be associated negatively with stereotypes of African Americans in popular culture.
  • African traditional music has a heritage of narrating stories. There was a time when only spoken language existed. Because of this, griots, or oral historians from West Africa, were the only ones who could keep history alive.
    African American folk music uses narrative to empower and express angst.

  • During a call-and-response performance, the singer projects a phrase onto the audience, who then adds punctuation to it.


Interesting Facts

  • Call and response songs were frequently used to pass the time during the workday or to disseminate information about slave plantations.

  • Lead Belly” Huddie Ledbetter
  • Lead Belly, a stage name for Huddie Ledbetter, was a blues and folk performer in the early 1900s.
  • He was renowned for his seductively straightforward style of playing the twelve-string guitar and his stunningly rich voice.

  • The “Empress of Blues” and a blues vocalist in the 1920s was Bessie Smith. Smith was the highest-paid black entertainer in the world prior to the Great Depression.
  • Her songs on women’s empowerment and her strong voice made her famous.


Interesting Facts

  • American folk singer and activist Odetta was active in the mid-1900s. She collaborated with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement, and she gave a performance at the White House.
  • Her music rose to enormous popularity during this time.

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