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youleaveyou knowmeaning made up by the people for a particularknee and in their words in their musical languageand use when they need it when they don't when they tell me that they don't usethis is what the religious folk song is not let me explain one thing to do it's very importantwe we're very concerned about the lack ofsick kilo songs from the slave your that we don't carewhich means that there's a reason that we had religious folk songs and that reason isall the ceo's felt that they could control the slaves morewhen they sang religious music there was a kind of aonce the slaves accepted christianity when they sign these spiritualswhen they sign these songs it and actually put them in the mood to get
word done to pay attention to centralize labels and thereforethe overseer like that so that they encourage the singing of the song for example where othercyclists on as a matter of fact in eighteen sixty seven when the first collection of thesesuvs up obviously songs of the united states the office complained about the pulseattack all secular music so that these people was singing religious songs becausethey believe that somehow through religion that we're going to be saying theywere going to be free so that this negro spiritual itselfis a religious folks all of the slave era which expressesbasically true false one is liberationand the other is sorrowfor example go down moses is a sorrow soin that great give not morning fare you well
is a jubilee that's a liberation we're going to get out of this out of thissituation one way or the other you talk aboutwhether people would like to think that the negro spiritual was createdduring the great church service and sitting in some wonderful cathedral whenin fact people were out in the field the group is overhere chopping cotton and the group is over here picking tomatoes and all of a suddensomebody overdose says have you got good religion in this group overuses certainly law they may not have all said the same thingat the same time i might have said yeah walking and he would comeby have you got good religion by that time they're thinking that certainlaw sounds good how it got good religion andover europe say i'm amal certainly is certainly iscertainly a lot of what you'll notice a few words though remain
because if you can saying just a few words and shop at the same timehave you got good religion certainly lowand you know how we talk about rhythm being the distinguishing factor between europeanmusic and an african american music that rhythm that pulse is sostrong and that it's a good working so as a matter of fact notonly did they sign yet when they were working but they sang it when they walked fromthis field up to the big house or to the nextplantation all when they rub the baby to sleep orwhen they were claiming the greens for demo we don't have them singingi'm looking over a fully global he's sad westside none of that they'resinging these songs that somehow they put words to from the church serviceand i'm i've read enough now to know thatyes the negro spirituals was sunder injured service but they will also work
songs people signed these two companies something and in ninecases out of ten if there was if there was a pulseto it they would sing songs which have a pulse if you will for you work they would singsongs which had sort of a slow rhythm because as this is thiswas like they are cds these were therethis is messy and in this is the key out of this is therewell may well but they needed they created themselvesout of this news one occasion where is this sessiontwo things one is the simplicity of the music and so the servers know thingsthat all these lyrics is providing a message was aninterpretation of understanding of the bible scriptureof the book i love sounds of spiritual
salvation yes it's a it's interesting to note that it was not until sixteensixty seven i guess in virginia that there was a law passedthat said black full ketzel's this is important because once they set the black applepencil they have to be responsible for their religiouseducation is about that the rest of the loss says and it is therefore possible to be aslave and christian at the same time now this meant that they had to go tochurch and the religiously educatorsit was not until six team six to seven that itwas agreed that black folks had souls novices in virginia and virginia was kindof the leaders of the united states around this time it was the united states and speaksixteen six to seven they passed a law which said that it would bepossible to be a slave and it crashed into this net them that someonehad to be responsible for the religious education of the slaves slaves are marched
to church sometimes sitting in pews much b am for black males bedone before black women sometimes sitting in the gallery a what we would know this the attic sometimeshaving service after the service of a slave owner in his family at any rateunder any circumstance of course they did teach them the bible more ofthe old testament and the new testament prize was not a great model for slatejehovah i met this guy who would come in and send up a phalanx of roaches arenew is the god that they've talked about so you find all of these spirituals about old testamentbut once they learned the stories they even began to make up songsabout them but these people were not readers they were notwriters they had to sing songs with a few words that they could learnwhat's carry on forever that everybody could sing at the same time so you'regoing to find spirituals little say swing low sweetchariot comin for to carry me home swing low sweet chariot
coming for the tamil just a few words which are going to be sung overknow look in that great good night moment there you will say you will in thatgreat good melbourne and freddie will repetition and just a few wordsnot do something interesting and james weldon johnson comments on this in the first book ofnegro spirituals and nineteen twenty five it's possible tocreate a chorus where there are only a fewwords or then a good growing flame a good ruleof flame a good ruling memo father's kingdom forclinical growing clinical ruined just choose yoursequences that there are only a few words the next time i'd sing thatmaybe somebody would come in and buy the third time i sing it now the whole groupbut what happened when you wanted a virus or a
conscious you can't make up along over as well with those people and james weldon johnson tellsus that the slaves creativity awful lot of wanderingcouplets and one drink watch trains which if you needed tostart singin to plan a good room and get away from him you could sayoh i love thatoh fabulous thewealthy and they do do good rule in thisplan although you cry people awake and they haveall of these when i get to heaven gonna sing and shout they'll benobody there to turn me out i looked over jordan and what did i see a band ofangels comin after me up when in the valley i didn't go to stage a sold outhappiest a garbage they had these all sitting over there and and therefore youcould make these spirituals very simple and then when you needed some
contrast you pull out one of those actually are seeing them singing spirituals and seeing the lasttwenty minutes because when one finished adding a few of these one drink up with anotherone would at it and makes a rather complex musical compositions wellhe talked about the idea of the music as salvation and one thinghe talked about was that the music was also our clancycommunities that was personally crimsontalk about there's a wonderfulstory in the eighteen sixty seven publication which imentioned earlier slave songs where they ask a slave how do youcompose the songs and he says obviously he's displease the master andsome kind way because the master calls them up and chargershundred lecture it's a month returned and he must pick up a bushelof something that as punishment for
displeasing slave driver of the matter is as a muddled church that nighti tell my friends about their good singers and they work it in and work it in until they get it justright now which i would happen you start singing the songand when you're singing at first according to the slavesyou just singing the words but after a while it getsalmost like sour it begins to take thefall out of place the shoulders begin to have tocome back to the veil natural position what's happening isyou're going through a a cleansing process you're coming backto where you want to be things and not know why as bedas you think they are and the more you think that themore you find relief the more you believe that there is a way outof this now and what it how important this was to remember that the slaves and
jill the days of hard work mistreatment little flulittle cold a little rest and they have to get upthe next day two were caught getlittle food very little clothing a little restand get up the next day and go through hardwork the flow little coda so that they had to have somethingwhich would inspire them which would keep him getting up from day to dayand that's what these spirituals did for four the slaves out ihad we head psychiatry is during that time and so the slaves to them i don'tknow whether they could've done the affective job that thesespirituals did for this and let me ask youyou are brutal
episode we talked earlier about how thethe reluctanceof the early singers of fisk to sing thesesongs in the presence of white people not just before an intimate concert eisenbergthere was of a senate but they were really not about that why that would bewhen this is interesting when slavery endedour two opinions about the aspersionsone was we don't want to sign anythingthat had anything to do with anything about slaveryit was really very painful for the majority of slaves now tobe sure there were some house slaves there were some oiltrustees all of all people were high on the list ofoverseas and who were free but for the majority of states particularly field slave night
guard slaves or how slaves who were treated a littlebetter but feels lays people would never even saw the details until the mess to battleuntil place to stay or some sort of celebration oh really lived themi hobbled life and they didn't want to have anything to do with thatso that they didn't sing spirituals a day in addition tothat minister suggested that they needed to do a differentkinds of songsmikeanswerson the other hand afterslavery ministers wanted to elevate the musical taste of theircongregation and started particular the baptist church started putting out books
for them to saying actually songs which were the nineteenth century white gospel hymnson the other hand there were people who said we wanted to sing those because that's obviousno it was i was getting ready togoat the same time there were people whofelt this is much too personal this is much tointercultural to share with other people if it losessomething when this music is sung before people whodon't know where it came from i would have to answer something and because this is aproblem that young black students have today in public school i don't want to answerany questions about any of these i wanted to be sung to fool people who share in its
history and its legacy they understand somebody else who doesn't understand that theymight laugh a and b might misunderstand it one wayor the other and i would just rather sing it when all the my people it had to hearjubilee singersbegin to before before we go to the juice iswhat one other question that the attentions of the book what to talk about whatthis visit would be the spiritual side and then an nserve american contemporary classical music as it's being performed in this isthat the journalists are justabsurdly ten feet late june hundredsfound two kinds of church music and i'm not speaking ofblack church music and they were the standard protestant
hail it's holy holy holy lord god almightya mighty fortress is our government will never fail atall god our help in ages past that was a standardprotestant and the other was the so called nineteenthcentury gospel hymn people likeme people like iowadavid psychic and fellow called the list songs like shall we gather at theriver sweet hour of prayer what a friend we have in jesus so we havethem the the standard protestant hymns and the the gospel hymns nowwhat happens with the slaves is that they borrowsome of the harmony and some of the workersfrom each of these and then they take poles
and together with that a river and that melodyand that singing style they create an oldspiritual and no song which is neither the standard protestantismknow the gospel hymn but something like every time i feelthe spirit movement in my heart i will prayit's certainly not wholly you hold mehold me when there's a certain soto offormality that's given both to the text a moment in the rhythmand the performance style here we often think thatso much of the spiritual comes from the insideout while it appeared to the slaves that the other systemwas from the outside un and very often it didn't quite get all the wayhere one of the things that also happened
when his innocence when the same services if it's real women religiousloophole was covered when the religious his abdomen andspirituals is an effort to transcribe them ok and is aperson one which which isn't too as one can you transcribe the music andto what is it that these these fighters are hearing i mean there are things that africanamericans are doing with the rhythm and the attack that has toppled governmentsi keep going back to the slaveclause of the united states it's not that i keep going back to slave songs of theunited states because that's such an important document it was the first collectionand as was the church and there was a wonderful introduction at thebeginning of this book and the office set out toexplain what's happening and they talk about the difficulty of a head inwriting this music to our mobile was
the scales that the singersused was unlike anything they had ever heard in the united states we'venow called the blue notes or the blues scalepadding and tongsinstead of saying an old milo then saying or milo whodo data today at and if youdon't know that that is the correct way that it's supposed to be done you say what theydidn't really mean that they met the eye either way and that was actually a little bit ofcorrecting and it was not correcting the music it was almost correcting theculture because it was within the culture at the same timethey said that they all sang harmony as we know it and yet no two people aresaying the same thing because the slaves were either
not impressed with the harmony that they heard in the churchservices or they disregarded it and went back to a kind of harmonynot like that which we hear in the box or the mendelssohn that we hearbut in the end a kind of loved folk adaptationof a culture that's not been impressed by european musicaljulie centers themselves to talk a little bit abouther nasar stardom but when theybegin to go on the road what do they represent as a group saysthe early nineteenth century facility with that they were that representswe talk about the fisk jubilee singers and we're indebted to the jubileesingers for two main reasons number one is fulltaking the negro spiritual on the row
number one and number two fought ithink perhaps we'll this to george ill white who was the treasurer andmusic teachers there for him saying that there was somethingbeautiful something and somethingcultural and this music that he heard the students saying i'm out on the yards and thatnow and tell you that there was a tradition at fisk mba ding seventies that you cameto school but you also had a job after demo where you had to work after all they were sortof self sustaining and when that job was over then you could go out on thelawn and you could visit with each other before you went in and you did your homeworkluggage or preparation for school and george wright and some of the otherprofessors noticed that local groups would get together and saying and theywere not singing ah the songs that they knew they weresinging negro spirituals and that's kind of interesting because all of these people hadn't been
slain from a densely but they know these songs from all they know thesesongs for a mom they know the songs from church and they would singthem and georgia say notice something wonderful about this fiscal seventh gradefinancial difficulties and they said you know i bet if peopleheard this music they would like it and give us some money to keep the school openoctober six eighth and seventy one of these men young men and women leavefisk to go out and saying to singthis song because they don't really start out singing the negro spiritual as much as theysaying what would be considered like classics and full songs of the day amilitia would play some pieces to make up a nice little he eventually of coursethey come to this music and when they sang the spirituals because they bringsomething special to let me when you talk about the reaction to
the audience's have to convince patients in a while with it would have a good sense of wherethey want it where they have such a strong reaction innorthern cities are not only one remember that if you did notlive in the south and even if you lived in the cell and you didn't havefifteen twenty five or a hundredslaves on a plantation you didn't know delightful youdidn't know their whale cooking you didn't know they're dancing and you didn't know they aresaying it all of a sudden and when we talk abouteighteen seventy while i would love to hear this because we'renot talking about the benefits of of oil fiskuniversity and its findings department today they didn't really they didn't have the benefit of thejuilliard school of music they didn't get the kind of training the play and jean price thatthey didn't look at is will people with natural beautiful voices who
would stand up and saying but in so doing that they would bring theof the arm collard greens that they hate enter their voicesthey would sign up they would bring the pork chops i mean you know they wouldbring that the league fried green tomatoes in jailand that fall tell them it provided that ends of opennessthat had never been hired in the united states now remember that we talk aboutjimmy leyland and all of the great european classical artists whoset the musical taste and here we find these blackfolk with incumbent voices hope to be sure some of them sounded like rachelsome sounded like aretha franklin these are not new voice pipes and thenthe african american culture because i inherited voiced eyes and to hear themsaying swing low sweet chariot with with it with the grape and grime andyet the passion was absolutely unheard of and this
is what the people heard they heard first those voices with the witness i'lltell you something the first time i heard that says smith saying i was an undergrad lawschool i was a junior and when i heard that lady with that gorgeous voice but we'lllook back tears of what i thought of as sadness i stopped didn't muchlike since it what is that style if pot as an african americangot that reaction from hearing cases missing for the first punch can you imaginewhat they must have heard an eight what white people nowsaddam's white people who never know who'd never seen bride people before someof that sometimes when they saw that when they saw the fisk jubilee singers some of the whizzing by people for thefirst time and heard this gorgeous voice but one that was so different from what the choirdirector's say emotionalvery emotional
This record is featured in “Jubilee Singers Interviews.”
American Experience
Jubilee Singers: Sacrifice and Glory
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Interview with Horace Clarence Boyer, Musicologist
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Horace Boyer Interview about a group of young ex- slaves in Nashville, Tennessee, who set out on a mission to save their bankrupt school by giving concerts. Traveling first through cities in the North, then on to venues across Europe, the Jubilee Singers introduced audiences to the power of spirituals, the religious anthems of slavery. Driven to physical collapse and even death, the singers proved more successful - and more inspirational - than anyone could have imagined.
Race and Ethnicity
American history, African Americans, civil rights, racism, lynching, Mississippi
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Chicago: “American Experience; Jubilee Singers: Sacrifice and Glory; Interview with Horace Clarence Boyer, Musicologist,” WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 20, 2019,
MLA: “American Experience; Jubilee Singers: Sacrifice and Glory; Interview with Horace Clarence Boyer, Musicologist.” WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 20, 2019. <>.
APA: American Experience; Jubilee Singers: Sacrifice and Glory; Interview with Horace Clarence Boyer, Musicologist. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from