Black History Month: Negro Spirituals, the music of our forefathers
As people from Africa were kidnapped and brought to the United States where they were forced to work as slaves, these communities of African-Americans developed a variety of ways to thrive despite the harsh nature of their lives.
One of their most recognized resources was music.
The most popular form of music they relied on came to be known as Negro Spirituals, and these songs of pain and survival, tinged with expressions of faith, have inspired millions from 1619 until today.
Clarence Jones, the founder of a choral organization called Heritage spoke with WBRZ's Brandi B. Harris about the importance of this music, saying,
"They were not written down, first of all. Therefore things change. But the basic melody, the basic message was the same."
Heritage, founded in 1976, works to preserve Negro Spirituals and the information concealed in the lyrics.
"The Negro spirituals, this is the music of our forefathers, the slaves," Jones said.
During the American Slave Trade enslaved Africans were stripped of their culture and in an effort to define themselves they made music with one of the only tools they had, their voices.
"Not only did they express themselves with the music, this was part of their religious practices," Jones said. "This was also their way of communicating one to the other. Sometimes there were hidden codes in the spirituals."
The spirituals were often powerful melodies with strong vocals that highlighted the pain of slavery, and over the years, though the arrangements have changed, the soul of the music remains the same.
Heritage travels the world performing these moving arrangements, and they've even had the chance to play at the Vatican.
When asked why it's important for this music to survive, Jones replied, "Is it important for you to learn American History? Of course it is. It needs to be kept alive and it is as important as anybody else's history."
Desktop NewsClick to open Continuous News in a sidebar that updates in real-time.
2MAD: United Way providing children with fresh produce in Capital Area
Child care facilities await 'Phase Two' of reopening plan in hopes of...
Capital Area parishes meeting state testing goals
Hurricane season and the pandemic- Swampland barriers, Wetlands declining
Retired General Russel Honore weighs in on restoring order in Minneapolis
Southern baseball players meet for unofficial practice in Port Allen
Kenan Cooper is first from West Feliciana to swim collegialety
LSU rolls out new turf in Tiger Stadium overnight
LSU Coaches dish on latest with football team
New West Feliciana football coach unsure of when he'll meet his new...