Negro Spirituals: The Cries of Our Ancestors

The Emotional Expression of The Slave

For hundreds of years, Africans were kidnapped and sold as slaves in a stolen land named America. The colonizers took everything from these people from their land, their culture, their native tongue, but one thing they couldn’t take away from them was music. African Americans have such a large impact on the music industry and world culture and sadly, American music was mainly rooted in the misery of the negro spiritual. Negro spirituals were songs sung by slaves and they were used to express their suffering in a religious way through a religion they were forced to adopt. They sung about bible stories, but also used these songs to communicate with each other without the master knowing. The number of spirituals is unknown because of the fact that slaves were forbidden from reading and writing but famous ones include “Wade in the Water,” and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”. After slaves were freed in 1867, African Americans continued to express themselves through negro spirituals. Negro Spirituals were even starting to be performed; for example, by the Fisk Jubilee Singers which eventually created the genre of Jubilee Quartet. Negro Spirituals continued to evolve in to different genres and those genres evolved in to more genres. Americans wouldn’t have modern day rap, hip-hop, r&b, and neosoul without the voices of the ancestors. 

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