Let’s Talk About Secular Folk Music

A Langham & McCants Collaboration

Secular Folk Music embodies distinguishing characteristics of African music. Africans and Africans connected during times of dance and song. The Acculturated slaves and African slaves influenced each other and created their own culture of song and art. Because of the complexity of the influential impacts on both sides, African-American music is a part of an African cultural continuum. To Europeans, African polyrhythms sounded like “noise” but to the African-Americans, secular music was a source of strength and community for the slaves. Due to the disdainful white opinion on folk music, there was no major commodification of this genre. Secular folk music was used in Children game songs, work songs, creole songs, protest songs, and in many more artistic expressions. Some staple assets of secular folk music include but are not limited to include banjos, deep timbres, polyrhythms, examples of “call and response”, and demonstrations of “heavy” emotion.  The black folk music that was sang during times of slavery are examples of secular folk music. Secular Folk Music is a major root of African American music as a whole. Secular Folk Music was black created, black owned, black led.

Examples of influential folk music artists include but are not limited to Odetta, Elizabeth Cotten, Richie Havens, and Leadbelly. An example Secular Folk Music song is  “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)” , which is a traditional Jamaican folk song; the best-known version was released by American singer Harry Belafonte in 1956 and later became one of his signature songs.

The origins of The Banana Boat Song stem from slavery in the islands. This song is a work song, from the point of view of dock workers working the night shift loading bananas onto ships.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMigXnXMhQ4[/embedyt]

Secular Folk Music among the African American community was a literal embodiment of community, strength and expression through song. If the slaves were in pain, they would sing it. If they were mad, they would sing it. If they were happy, they would sing it. Folk music paved the way for artistic expression within the black community, inevitably paving the way for future genres.

Jaida Langham & Alyssa McCants 

(inhabitants of the cursed talking corner)

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