The root of folk music truly comes from the Black community and the tale of the struggles, empowerment, and human rights that have been faced throughout the centuries. Although is has been deemed that the origin of Folk was the white man, the true influencers on Folk music were our people.
The evolution of Folk Music begins mainly in the late 1800’s- stemming from one of the multiple occupation African Americans had at the time. The average man/woman would sing about their “freedom” while simultaneously reminding the crowd of the shackles that were still worn in some aspects of life. The job entailed touring with groups like entertainments troupes and medicine shows. This genre was discovered as Blues but now known as Folk Blues today.
Civil Rights Songs in Folk Music
In the 1950s and 60s, during the time of the peak in the civil rights movement, Black Americans all over the country for fighting for equal rights. Folk artists like Odetta, Sweet Honey in the Rock, and ,many others joined MLK in spreading the cause and fighting through injustices. Songs like “We Shall Overcome” and “Oh Freedom” were used in protests aiding the message get across to their audience.
By the 1970s, forms of Folk music have evolved into different variations of what is known now as Hip Hop. This was called a new brand of folk music and it began in cities like Chicago, LA, NYC, and Detroit. Artists in these areas used ancient drum rhetorics and updated studio equipment to adapt to the new sound of Gangsta Rap. Current Black music musicians continue to pave the way for bringing awareness towards injustice, civil rights, politics, and education.