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Negro Spirituals: Where Your Favorite Gospel Song Originated​

Negro Spirituals:
Pain Turned To Joy

Negro spirituals created in the 18th century is said to be closely related to the enslavement of Africans in the Americas. Spirituals were created by slaves to express their Christian religious belief that came through the Great Awakening. Although referred to as “hymns” they were not technically that, spirituals were sung with so much soul. Spirituals shaped and influenced what we now know as gospel music. The slaves in the south held invisible churches where they gathered in secret to worship and praise through songs and dances. As we could imagine, many of the negro spirituals were created and sung there.

Elements

Ring Shout

Ring Shout is one of the most common elements used in Negro Spirituals. It’s characterized as by leader-chorus antiphonal singing, hand clapping and other percussion, which incorporates highly stylized religious dance.

Arranged/Concert Spiritual

The post-Civil War form of spirituals in a fixed, non-improvised form, which evolved in schools created to educate emancipated slaves.

Polyrhythm

Several contrasting rhythms played or sung simultaneously.

Call and Response

A song form that characterized many of the earliest documented spirituals; a song structure or performance practice in which a singer or instrumentalist makes a musical statement that is answered by another soloist instrumentalist, or group. 

People like Paul Robeson, Jessye Norman and Undine Smith Moore have paved the way for those like Kirk Franklin, Tasha Cobbs and Lashaun Pace Rhodes. I have a deeper appreciation for Gospel music now understanding where it came from and I’m greatful for my ancestors having being slaves, still created something so beautiful.

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