The FOLK Impact

Folk music originated in the 17th century among  Southern Slaves. As slaves converted to Christianity they began to write songs based on their interpretation of the religion. They created their own traditions and would even sing folk songs in groups as they worked on the plantation field. Not only would they express their own interpretation of Christianity but they would also change the melodies and rhythms of psalms and hymns. They would add African words and phrases and speed up the tempos so that they could dance to the songs as well. The banjo was a popular instrument found in folk music. This was a large influence on all genres as other artists began to incorporate the unique sound of the banjo in their music as well. After the Civil War folk music began to boom. The theme of folk music was struggle, empowerment, human rights, and perseverance. This was due to the hardships that the African-American community were facing during that time period.Many former slaves went to northern cities like Detroit and Chicago. Artists like Jack Delaney and Fisk University Jubilee Singers began to tour the country and spread folk music. Some more singers that influenced the Civil Rights Movement by expressing their experiences through folk music were Baez, Pete Seeger, the Freedom Singers, Harry Belafonte, Guy Carawan, and Paul Robeson. They would stand outside of Churches all across the South singing about their right to freedom and equality.  This is how southern traditions and music spread all across the country. This also brought media attention to the movement. It showed unity throughout the community. Folk music also became popular in barbershops. This is where a lot of the members of the community would congregate and socialize. This is still a common theme in Hip Hop. Contemporary rappers and singers now make their music about racism, violence, politics, and poverty. They incorporate what the African-American community is facing during today’s time period. African-American folk music has strongly influenced the path of hip-hop, jazz, R&B, and the blues.

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Aysia Brister

Aysia Brister

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