Where it really started: Negro Spirituals

Origins of the Negro Spiritual

Negro Spirituals go as far back as slavery in the southern region of the United States. These folk songs were the interpretation of the Christian faith that was imposed on enslaved Africans. There was concert negro spirituals that was later performed by Fisk Jubilee Choir and others to follow. Unlike most black folk songs of the time negro spirituals did not have a syncopated rhythm.

Elements of the Genre

The key elements in the Negros Spirituals is call and response and religion. Call and response was a style often used in Black folk music.Another element of this genre was ring shout, which is characterized by singing, and clapping while in a circle for a religious rituals. These elements would eventually become evident in other areas of music.

Primary Performers

There are a few different styles of Negro Spirituals, amongst them is concert Negro Spirituals. The Fisk Jubilee Singers performed concert style Negro Spirituals all over the United States.

Social Implications

Spirituals were a medium used by enslaved Africans to not only internalize their struggle, but to also relate to the stories they heard from the Holy Bible. No one who created those songs or wrote those lyrics recieved any credit for it. All of those songs would have been lost if it wasn’t for people traveling from the north to the south to record them.

Summary Opinion

Prior to this assignment I had little to no knowledge of Negro Spirituals outside of the fact that enslaved Africans in America received no acknowledgement for creating them. I have a better understanding of where these songs come from as well as how impactful they were in some of the music we listen to today.  

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