Msuic notes

African American Music

  • Minstrel Shows

    Minstrel Shows
    Minstrel shows began in the 1830s but didn't gain popularity until the 1840's. They held their popularity through the abolishment of slavery. Although popular in the south, they also gained popularity in the north. The performers were white men who wore blackface. The purpose of minstrel shows was to make fun of and degrade the African American race. One of the most famous minstrel performers was Al Jolson.
  • Negro Spirituals

    Negro Spirituals
    Negro Spirituals (before 1865) are songs sung by slaves that were based off the stories in the bible. Stories from both the new and old testamet were made into Spirituals. Not only were the songs a display of faith, but they also contained secret messages about escaping slavery. An example of a song with a hidden message is, "Wade in the Water." It had a hidden message for slaves to walk through the river as they escaped so dogs couldn't find follow their scent.
  • Fisk Jubilee Singers

    Fisk Jubilee Singers
    The Fisk Jubilee Singers were from the all black college of Fisk University. In 1871 the group was offically established. The singers were the first group to professionally sing Negro Spirituals.
  • Ragtime

    A musical genre filled with syncopated rythms. The music is very upbeat and uplifting. Ragtime served as a sort of segway between the older music of spirituals and the newer styles of jazz and blues.
  • Blues

    The blues has a strong connection to and many believe it was born out of the Delta Blues. There are many different styles of blues that come from different sections of the country. Some styles include sophisticated, country, and folk. The main focus of the blues is that the songs are not about bad times, but bad relationships. Famous Blues musicians include Billie Holliday, B.B. King, and Memphis Minnie.
  • Jazz

    A tricky genre to define because there's no set definition or style that can define it. One of the most common factors is the walking bass line. It's another genre that will sound different when listened to in different parts of the country. Jazz continues to be a popular musical style. New Orleans is a city that is strongly influenced by jazz. Some people even believe NOLA is where jazz originated. Jazz is one of the defining characteristics of New Orleans.
  • Gospel

    The literal definition of gospel is "good news". Similar to spirituals, the songs are based in religion and the stories and messages of the bible. The original form of gospel is very strict and very conservative and has a distinct styling to it. It has now become a genre that has many different styles. There are conflicts between the older styles and modern styles. Many people believe that the newer styles are disrespecting what gospel is about because they include hip hop and rap.