Negro Spiritual

Negro Spirituals is the earliest form of sacred music from African Americans in the United States. Enslaved people were introduced to hymns by Europeans; however, African Americans radically changed the hymns they were introduced to and gave them a call and response structure. African Americans also used hand clapping and body movement. In accounts given by enslaved people, they stated that spirituals are original and divinely inspired. No one knows the precise date of the origin of Negro Spirituals; however, most enslaved people converted to Christianity after the Great Awakening. Negro Spirituals expressed enslaved peoples desire for freedom through the use of double entendres. The songs often included directions to the underground railroad and other methods of escape. The earliest form of a capella religious music by African Americans during enslavement is known as folk spirituals. Enslaved people have invisible churches, which is where enslaved people worshipped in secret so they could avoid having white supervision. Important performers included Harry T. Burleigh and Marian Anderson. Negro Spirituals were later commodified when three white abolitionists created the first written form of negro spirituals. They wanted to humanize enslaved people and give them a voice. Being that I grew up in a black church, I am familiar with Negro Spirituals and I enjoy them.


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