The Art of Spirituals
Written by: Sydnei Young
This genre originated in slavery from African American’s. This genre symbolized the slave’s expression of pain, sorrow, beliefs, and Christian values.
Spirituals normal structure are usually call-response. Most spirituals had underlying meanings and were often covert to only Christians, not their slave masters. For example, the song “Swing low, Sweet Chariot” directly refers to the Underground Railroad, an informal organization that helped freed slaves. Spirituals symbolizes freedom. They reflected upon the slaves lives back in their home land and who they were back then.
Social Implications, Commodification, & Influence of Genres
Negro spirituals and folk music demonstrated the treatment of slaves during slavery to many people worldwide. These genres played a major role in the Civil Rights and Civil War era by expressing the feelings of slaves during their freedom fight. Gospel came about as a result from negro and folk spirituals.
The Negro spiritual came to public attention at the Fisk Free Colored School by the hands of George White. His singers, the Fisk Jubilee Singers, set out in the 1870s to perform at concerts to raise money for the school. Another important performist was the late Robert Hayes. He was known for being the lead concert tenor and was also once a member of the Fisk Jubilee singers.
Photo of the Fisk Jubliee Singers
Negro and Folk spirituals have paved the way for future genres in America. Their flattery notes and black spiritual performances hold a significant place in music history. They show the determination and strength of our Black ancestors and what they all had to endure before our time. For that, I will forever be grateful.