The Negro Spiritual, originating back from times of Slave Songs, is the oldest and most pure time of folk music originated in America. When slaves were brought over to America through the transatlantic slave trade, music became one of the only ways for the slaves to try and cope with their situation and try to imagine freedom away from slavery.
This folk music was not only passed down through oral traditions. These songs were recorded and published into 100 Negro Slave Songs. In this songbook however, the original composers were not credited. All the composers are “anonymous”.
There was a period of time when negro spirituals and folk songs were exploited for the entertainment of White people. The Fisk Jubilee Singers were hired by white people to perform their arrangements for entertainment. They sang in a ‘Glee Club” style, which comprised of harmonized vocals parts and lack of emotional depth that the slaves who created them had originally experienced.
Negro spirituals had a wide influence on the creation of other genres of music such as classical, jazz, rock and roll, r&b, and blues. Even though the negro spiritual were deeply rooted in a yearning for God, the same crooning principles were applied when creating these other genres and can be heard specifically in blues, jazz, and r&b.