Negro Spirituals

The biggest factor that contributed to the origin of Negro Spirituals was work songs. In short, negro spirituals were a way to get through the strenuous work being done by slaves. The sacred nature of this music was to remind slaves that there was something better than the earthly suffering they were experiencing. The timbre of this music is very deep and soulful, it is moving and very traditionally black religious. Essential elements of this music include ring shouts, slow tempo, sacred texts, and were still deeply inspired by African music. This music was commodified later in history by white people to serve as a false creation of Black history. All of our “originals” were written out, they created sheet music, and put it in books to be sold. Some important negro spiritual artists include Paul Robeson and Roland Hayes. This genre had a huge influence on what later become gospel music.

Paul Robeson performing  Ol’ Man River


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