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The following tape recorded program is a presentation of the National Association of educational broadcasters. Mum load o unload. All over Los Lobos all over the globe. You're listening to the spiritual of the negroes from Christianity's my songs he sang to comfort the load of a load.
This is the second program in a series on the roots of jazz in the United States. In this program we discuss the years of slavery and the negro religious and spiritual music in the south. Oh I'm sure a lot of local Los. For 300 years Negroes have been in America slaves and free almost as long as anyone except the interiors. They were brought to the south of the United States in greater and greater numbers throughout the seventeen and eighteen hundreds. They were brought to the south and distributed over the South. They lost their friends
they lost their relatives. They lost their freedom. Los Lobos. Load all over Los Lobos 0 0 0 on load load and load load load. How strange it is that these downtrodden people from without the boundaries of Western civilization should have been responsible and almost solely so for the most original artistic force to enter Western culture since the Renaissance in the United States. This artistic force has been musical. On our popular songs most of our dance forms. Jazz Blues and spirituals are probably
the only unique contributions of Americans to the art forms of Western civilization. Or more to these in the slave peoples of the South. Than to any other influence. And the questions to ask are these. Why should it have a risen in the southern states of the United States and they're alone. Why did the art form of the negroes take their peculiar construction rather than any other. What relationship exists between jazz and the Southern negroes. Work Song was spirituals shanks and the blues. According to Robert Park well known journalist and student of Negro life. Whatever may have been the origin of his other songs we know that the spirituals arose spontaneously out of the communal excitements of a religious meeting a revival or a shop. The best of these were remembered repeated and handed down
by oral tradition. The songs that were most often repeated where those that most completely and adequately voiced the deep unconscious wishes of those who sang them. And again missed a pox as the Negro folk songs by the Negroes literature of slavery. They reflect life as he saw it and felt it at that time. 60 years ago travelers on the lower Mississippi were invariably attracted by the rude shanties of the negro deckhands on the towboat. Some fragments of these as well as the work song say of the mowers of the rowers and the Cornhuskers have been preserved. This is the voice of one of America's greatest gospel singers behavior Jackson telling about the music of the South. As she remembered it. I think. The way that. I'm down home in this. Railroad track. In the last year.
And. Wrecked. The railroad track team in between the river and I. Am telling you the truth. No record. Contract there found. That out who. Our child into the old man lane. And. The bike there's epitome of. It. But it's something. I am getting out. I can never forget that. And the way. They were saying the chorus with the band when it counted out on the children that are. There. By.
And. I thought of the Fifth. Record can put down. It had to be done at that particular time. And of. The record. I have. Been able to get away from that primitive. I've never had any training. And. Heard all my life. In the. Track. Home.
You heard my head you Jackson telling about the negroes in the south. Telling of
their singing not too many years ago. And we know from much earlier authority that they have for over 100 years a song with that saying feeling. Let me hear you describes it so well. And characterizing folk songs in general explaining way they come about and what happens to them. Dr. Park says folk songs are the literature of an illiterate people. The first effect of the introduction of reading and writing among an illiterate folk. Is to destroy the sources of their songs. Writing and forces reflection. Or reflection makes the writer self-conscious and destroys that natural spontaneity which is the essence of poetry. But to answer the questions we started with why did this music begin in the south and only there. We must turn to the negroes early affection for religion. The slave was no more than a
piece of merchandise to the legal minds of the South. To give you an idea of their position here is a quote from the civil code of Louisiana a slave is one who is in the power of a master to whom he belongs. The master may sell him dispose of his person is industry and his labor. He the slave can do nothing but thus nothing nor acquire anything but what must belong to his master. And in the civil code of South Carolina another instance of slaves shall be deemed so old taken reputed and are judged in the law to be chattels personal in the hands of their owners and possessors and their executors administrators and assigns to all intents constructions and purposes whatsoever. And amongst the people of the South there are numerous recorded instances to indicate that the letter of the law was not softened by any force of humanity. Here is a report taken from the Vicksburg Mississippi register dated
December 27 1838 and headlined in betting two gentlemen at a tavern having summoned the negro waiter. The poor fellow had scarcely entered when he fell down in a fit of apoplexy. He's dead exclaimed one. He'll come too replied the other. Dead for five hundred done retorted the second. And the bet was made. The noise of the fall and the confusion which followed brought up the landlord who called out to fetch a doctor. No no. We must have no interference. There is a bad depending. But sir I shall lose a valuable servant. Never mind. You can put him down in the bill. To use the words of Rex hire us. There are instances of forced concubinage the forced use of negro slaves as human guinea pigs. There are references to such punishments as cutting out tongues putting out the eyes. Castration scalding burning and cutting off limbs or members.
These punishments were illegal but they were practiced. And if slaves resisted or prepared self-defense then murder became justified and sanctioned. The education of negro slaves was not merely discouraged. It was oppressed vigorously and as a testimony to the efficacy of the campaign. Here is a quotation from the lips of a Mr Barry speaking in the House of Delegates of Virginia in the year 1832. We have as far as possible closed every avenue by which light might enter the slavers minds. If we could extinguish the capacity to see the light our work would be completed. They would then be on the level of the beast of the field and we should be saved. I am not certain that we would not do it if we could find out the process and that in the plea of necessity. Why.
So we see the condition of slavery as a prelude to the answering of a question. The foregoing is a dark picture of slavery and it had its exceptions and these exceptions just as the last quotation of Mr. Barry suggest with the opening wide use of the chain which tied the negro to the whites. What the end.
As Robert Park says weather is custom. There will always be some sort of justice and equity and no individual will be a wholly a law unto himself. And of course evidence of this sense of equity was the increasing number of slaves would be given their freedom through the residence is the accepted etiquette which existed between plantation owner and the slaves. This etiquette permitted the Negroes to sing but not to converse and to have religion but not always to go to white folk churches masters and overseers taught the slaves of the book of wisdom and the slaves created on their own songs designed to be song while working and the negroes were allowed to become
Christians. Here are other words of our own Ford who was born a slave in South Carolina somewhere around the year 1847. There wasn't no church on the plantation where I stay at preaching to Mr. Ford's yard sometimes. And then another time the slaves went to white people's church and there's one boss tell slaves to go to meet him because he says he paid the preacher. Here are the words of Tom Douglass slave born September 15 1847 Eldorado Arkansas. I never went to school a day in my life. I learned my ab C's after I was 19 years old. I went to night school then to a teacher by the name of Nelse. Oh I was the first nigger to join the church on this side of the Mason-Dixon line. Here are other words of to leap to Lewis who was born a slave in 1852 in Goldsboro North Carolina.
We went to the white folks church. So we sit in the back on the floor. They allowed us to join their church whenever one got ready to join or felt that the Lord had forgiven them for their sins. We told our determination. This is what we said. I feel that the Lord have forgiven me for my sins. I have prayed and I feel that I am a better girl. I belong to Master so-and-so and I am so. The white preacher then what Asgar miss and master what they thought about it and if they could see any change they would get up and say. I notice you don't steal and I notice you don't lie as much. And I notice she works better then they let us join. We served our mistress and master in slavery time and not gun religion gripped the imagination of the slaves it offered him an avenue of expression. The Bible especially the portions dealing with the persecution of the Jews appealed to their sense of justice. As James Weldon Johnson writes.
Far from his native land and customs despised by those among whom he lived experiencing the pang of the separation of loved ones on the auction block. Knowing the hard taskmaster feeling the lash the negro seized Christianity the religion of compensations in the life to come. But the ills suffered in the present existence. The religion which implied the hope that in the next world there would be a reversal of condition. A rich man and poor man a proud and meek master and swayed. The result was a body of songs voicing all the cardinal virtues of Christianity patience forbearance love faith and hope through unnecessarily modified form of primitive African music. Right.
The negro took complete refuge in Christianity and the spiritual were literally forged of sorrow in the heat of religious fervor they exhibited Moreover a reversion to the simple principles of primitive communal Christianity. You were here on purpose. You were hurt amateur you were here. And the negro brought to Christianity his music music which was a vocal song in English and African African slang known as The Work Song of the spiritual. What brought him to the church the Protestant Church
Baptist and Methodist but mostly Baptist. And the church and religion spurred them on in the development of the music. Here we have George Lena a negro of Chicago who has found himself increasingly more interested in the early life of his people of the South. Here is what George says about the spiritual and Christianity they became. First Lady. They lost their other religious again. And becoming Protestants they. Are two primary branches of the Protestant church. The day for a lot. And that is the Baptist church and the Methodist Church. Because that was the stronger of the two of the stronger churches and thus however.
Naturally they. Went to what. They had opted. The other man's religion. And in adopting those religions. They developed. Some of their songs along with the hymns of the other church. Now here is where we find. The big difference and in the music. And development of the hymn then. Adebayo spiritual them are there. In their. And adding their own spiritual than they are. It gave. Him a better feeling and feeling to this religion. But years passed. And now the East Coast. Will find what we call. The
sanctified sect. Now let me clarify one little point there how things came about. In the Baptist church. Primarily every church is an autonomous by. The church itself. We don't we didn't find this breaking off in the Methodist church because you have a central governing body in the Methodist Church. And the Baptist Baptist Church you have an autonomous body. In every church. They have a point that ministers say. They govern themselves. And in that. We found among the people were split off from the churches because they didn't necessarily like the way the church was going or something and then they went off with another minister. That's why we have. So many other sects.
But they originally came primarily from the Baptist church. And best they carried their songs with them. Mbak. Charles became a part of the whole church and. We found singers vying for attention. And. They invited guests other churches for. To gain gain members knowledge in the congregation. Therefore they added new interpretations to Saul. That was Georgia Aleena a distributor of records largely bought by Negroes after the church service in the south. Whether it was a church in a building or a church in a grove of woods there was usually a second more informal meeting known as a shop. During the
regular church meeting the word would be slyly whispered around that there was to be a shout afterwards slyly because the white clergyman were inclined to discountenance such affairs. Here is a description of just such an event as published in The New York nation of May 30th 1867. The true shout takes place on Sundays or on praise nights to the week. Either in the praise house or in some cabin in which a regular religious meeting has been held. Very likely more than half the population of the plantation is gathered together. Let it be the evening and the light wood fire burns red before the door of the House and on the hearth. For some time and one can hear it through a good distance. The most interest exhortation or prayer of the presiding or of the brother who has a gift
that way and who is not on the back seat of praise the interpretation of which is under the censure of the church authorities for bad behavior and at regular intervals. One hears the elder weakening him. You know what your son reminds at a time and it was wailing cadences born on the night there are indescribably Khali. The benches are pushed back to the wall when the formal meeting is over and old and young men and women brutally dressed young man the task we have pleasure your hands the women generally with big ears twisted about their heads and with short skirts and boys with tattered shirts and men's clothes young girls barefooted all stand up in the middle of the floor
and when the spiritual is struck up again first walking and by and by shuffling round one after the other entering. The foot is mightily taken from the floor and the progression is mainly due to that jerking pitching motion which educates the entire shelter and soon brings out streams of perspiration. Sometimes they downsize. Rhymes as they shuffle they sing the chorus of the spirit and sometimes the song itself is from that I've answered. But more frequently I am composed of some of the best singers in the fire shelters stand at the side of the room and the basic scenario body of the song and clapping their hands together on the knee their song and dance are like extremely energetic and often when the shell lashed into the middle of the night the monotonous buzz of the food prevents sleep within half a mile.
And they know that it was. Midnight. That was was. That was
that was. That is how the spirituals sounded. It was the words of the Lord said to a chant and the rhythm of the white folks hymns was similarly interpreted and changed and became a negro religious music. Later in the big cities the negro's gospel singing. That's why you're Jackson going so truly say how she did at the opening of this program. I sing the song was the way they did. On the Go on the logo all over the globe all over the globe.
Uh uh this has been on program number two in the roots of jazz program the Big Three will tell of the work song and the blues the roots of jazz is written and produced by Norman Cleary from the studios of Radio Station wor I. Ames Iowa he was the leader and the song director. This is going to speak don't then turn them up. Well over the phone all over the hill over here and all over the. This is the end AB Radio Network.
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Roots of jazz
Negro spirituals
Producing Organization
Iowa State University
WOI (Radio station : Ames, Iowa)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
The influence of African-American spirituals on jazz.
Series Description
Music-documentary series in 26 parts, covering various aspects of jazz.
Broadcast Date
Media type
Director: Cleary, Norman
Engineer: Vogel, Dick
Interviewee: Harris, Rex
Interviewee: Jackson, Mahalia, 1911-1972
Interviewee: Lena, George
Producing Organization: Iowa State University
Producing Organization: WOI (Radio station : Ames, Iowa)
Speaker: Geesy, Ray
Writer: Cleary, Norman
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 56-24-2 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:50
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Chicago: “Roots of jazz; Negro spirituals,” 1956-07-08, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 25, 2024,
MLA: “Roots of jazz; Negro spirituals.” 1956-07-08. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 25, 2024. <>.
APA: Roots of jazz; Negro spirituals. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from