1 March 2012
History of African American Music
“In less than a minute, the death wail went up out of every cabin in the Quarters, and Brother Ezekial began the death chant: Soon one morning, Death come knocking at my door…. Oh, my lord, What shall I do” (Walker 17)? Death was common for slaves. They routinely died from disease, beatings and accidents on the plantation, and they expressed their sorrow in the form of song. “I see death around the corner, gotta stay high while I survive, … Keep my finger on the trigger, no mercy in my eyes” (“Death Around”). Death is still common in the African American society. “Black males ages 15-19 die from homicide at 46 times the rate of their white counterparts” (Xanthos). Today they are still experiencing violence and death in their own communities, and once again music is a major outlet to express emotion. African American music has always been a reflection of the attitudes and behaviors of the time.
African American slaves didn’t have much to bring along with them coming into a new country, they had very little family as they were all separated and divided into different plantations. What they did bring with them was their musical traditions. Many people would refer to their type of music as slave songs, gospel music or spiritual music. Spiritual music had a variety of moods. “The slaves sang for many reasons. A song might be a lullaby, a work song, a mournful complaint, or a tune sung simply for pleasure” (Woog 13). After all the deaths that were taken place in the south, it was a doleful measure for the slaves on the plantation and this gave them a way to let out all their sorrows, these songs had great meanings to them, sometimes their songs even had hidden messages in them. “One song called "Wade in the Water" instructed escaping slaves to walk in the rivers and streams so that the water would wash away their smell and the master's hounds wouldn't be able to track...