Negro Spirituals: A Look Into Ring Shout

Origin of Negro Spirituals

Negro Spirituals were songs created by the Enslaved Africans. It was a way for them to worship but, they also took on many other deeper meanings. For Example, many of the songs were guides for slaves to escape slavery, like Wade in the Water. 

What is Ring Shout

Ring Shout originates from an indigenous dance form from Central and West Africa, which dancers move in a counterclockwise circle. This was practiced as a part of slaves religious activities. Ring shout is compromised of dancing, singing, rhythms, and call-and-response. A call-and-response is when a singer or musician makes a musical statement and is responded to by another singer or musician. The ring shout was a way for slaves to worship god after a long days work and to bring the community together.

Primary Performers

McIntosh county Shouters are extremely popular and they travel all around the world to expose people to the rich tradition of ring shouting. They would have dancers, musicians, and singers to perform this tradition in shows around the world. Many groups are un-named as they were done in slave times when there was rarely ever any records of who performed them.


Ring Shout was a big part of our history when it come to negro spirituals. It was a way for the slaves to worship the lord in their own way. It also brought the concept of call response which is still used today in many different genres of music. I think that Negro Spirituals gave the enslaved a sense of hope and it allowed them to lift each other up. 

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