The Negro Spirituals, spell out black music better than no other. First it started with small rhythmic sounds; this was the slaves way of communicating. Being that at the time English was a new language and as they progressed knowing how to formally speak was forbidden. Knowing proper English for a “nigger” was a blessing; knowing how to put a sentence together longer than “yes master” for a slave could be a death sentence.
As time grew and blacks grew more knowledgeable with what at the time was the White Man’s God; faith grew along with chants and later what would be songs. Songs that empowered their persistence and determination to live, to overcome. How I Got Over!
This only increased in the period that followed Slavery in the Jim Crow South. Theses songs and ones to come we’re what held a people together. They are the ones from time to time, if you have an old Southern Grandmother you may hear her humming. Wade in the Water. Amazing Grace.
They are what make the Negro Spirituals; not just one song, not just one hymn, not one chorus, or not one verse. The Negro Spirituals like most music of any genre or any generation is a life. It’s a story told through a beat; a beat sometimes only known and heard by the author and singer. Music indeed can be a life; because as history can tell, genres can live and die with generations. The thing with the Negro Spirituals though they continue to live on through the generations, through time.
Can you hear it??? Mmhhhmmmm…….mmmmmmmmhhhhhmm……hhhhhhmmm……that hum? Followed by a pat on the knee or upper thigh….brought all together with a clap of the hands.
As in its name, the Negro Spirituals aren’t just simply a form of music, a series of songs, poems, verses, or beats. The Negro Spirituals are the composition of the spirits of anyone everyone tapping out, humming, or singing one of its tunes.
Roll Jordan Roll, Roll Jordan Roll….Went down to the river Jordan, where John baptized three *claps.claps.claps.claps* My soul arrive Heaven Lord!