From around the 1920’s and 1930’s, both Blues and Negro Spirituals were popular in the African American community. But what made some Black people sing the Blues while others were singing Spirituals?
Originating in the deep south, specifically Mississippi, Blues was sang primarily by African American women. Giving them the opportunity to express themselves, their thoughts and feelings about their lives. The first Blues superstar, Bessie Smith, brought the rest of the country’s attention to the Blues being heard in clubs all throughout the Mississippi Delta region.
During slavery, many Africans sang Negro Spirituals as a way to lift spirits, as well as give others instructions on a way to escape to the North. After emancipation, African Americans continued to sing Negro Spirituals at church. These songs are not only history, but continue to lift spirits to this day. Mahalia Jackson was a popular Negro Spiritual singer that brought attention to the genre during its prime.
Secular versus sacred. The club versus the sanctuary. African Americans were celebrating music and their culture regardless of the genre it was. The location Black people were from, and the way that they grew up, all had a determining factor in the genre of music they were more inclined to indulge in.