Negro Spirituals The Introduction to African American Music

Negro spirituals, the staple piece of Black American music, is the accumulation of slavery, struggle and the introduction of white “missionary”  influence, that we know would later turn into years of free labor and mistreatment.  Negro spirituals speak volumes to endurance and a relentless spirit. Stemming from literally having nothing besides the clothes on your back, spirituals are an inclusive music genre creating music through the use of everybody, to make a sound that is not only rhythmic but also a form of relief. This includes the clapping of hands, stomping of feet, slapping of thighs, and singing of course.  The exposure of Negro Spirituals is one to be not only upset by, but equally appreciative of. Through the writing down of spirituals from the only people capable of reading music at the time, a compilation of 100 Negro Spirituals was written down and archived. The unfortunate part about this is that of course all of the songs are written anonymously. If a slave does not even have a proper individual name, there was no way to identify who the song belonged to, and there was definitely no way in which the slaves were compensated for their early and original additions to would become a large platform for African American Music.

Negro Spirituals are a form resistance, in that they were often used to communicate. From one slave to the other in sorrow and in hope that one day they would overcome. With such terrible conditions to endure every single day without any real knowledge as to when or if the conditions would better themselves, singing was one of the only available and non-threatening sources of alleviation. Negro spirituals are one of the beginning sources of what we know to be modern gospel, in that there are many religious elements mentioned in terms of believing in a God, and hoping that they would be heard. Spirituals are sacred and simple. textured lyrics but the beat and rhythm is very minute and introductory.

Kind of like the blues, negro spirituals seem to travel very deeply in the essence of black folks, there’s a generational connection that happens when a song is played. There have been many remakes to these spirituals sung in original form and then meshed together in other genres such as gospel. Regardless of how removed we are from slavery, spirituals still seem to be apart of the black essence and experience. If it were not for these authentic, innovative, inventive and everlasting pieces of music, which we now celebrate and acknowledge as spirituals, who knows if the black advancement in music would be nearly as far along as it is today.

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