Those who were bought from Africa dealt with harsh living conditions without freedom or grace. Negro Spirituals were a way were slaves to express their resistance and survival, often sung with homemade instruments, if any instruments at all. Negro Spirituals were a way for them to express their concerns, feelings, or thoughts about one another. The instruments were hornlike instruments, an addition to their creation of songs.
Once African Americans were able to get an education, many people set out to attend the first university, Fisk University. At Fisk University, the Fisk Jubilee Singers were formed. The Fisk Jubilee Singers traveled around the world performing Negro Spirituals. The point of doing so, was to spread awareness of what slaves felt during the time. Mistreatment and inhumane conditions can be described throughout Negro Spirituals. The Fisk Jubilee Singers still perform today, singing Negro Spirituals their ancestors once lived.
Instruments such as the drums, banjo, xylophone, and the marimba were used. In addition, if needed, slaves used their bodies to create sounds. Call and response and community singing would also be used during these times. An example of a call-and-response Negro Spiritual is “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”. As we know, call-and-response was and is still used in what we know as Bounce Music in New Orleans. It is through music that we continue showcase our resistance, hope, and inspiration.
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