Black artists and musicians played a crucial role in the progression of American folk music. Originally from negro spirituals, these songs of the civil rights were commonly passed down through oral tradition. African American folk music comes largely from the musical traditions of slaves and their offspring in the south. The roots of the carefree melodies often time feature-poor black musicians who wrote songs about their day to day lives and community.
During slavery, early folk songs were a series of chants and calls out to eat others in the fields. They were known as “call and response” songs. They were used to spread information and ways of passing the time during the day. Singers such as Odetta and Sweet Honey and the Rock got jobs touring with traveling entertainment groups. They worked to integrate folk-blues into communities to bring together the races and help fight discrimination.