What I have learned as a storyteller/musician is the gift of music created from within the human soul can enhance, change and transform the life of the listener. Music heals, it creates a space for joy and fulfillment and has the ability to transform and transcend any situation in the listeners ear even in the midst of human suffering and pain. In American history and in the case of black spirituals these amazing songs allowed the slaves to be heard during a time when they were not allowed to have a voice. Their secret communications within these songs not only changed the course of history, thankfully it preserved their oral history, healed their pain, and paid forward to their children the idea that fortitude, courage and resilience will ultimately give them their God given human right of freedom that belongs to all God’s children. The spirituals represent our entire nation as a National Treasure and around the world they are revered. America in spite of her faults and on going struggle to overcome our limiting beliefs that keep us all from living the full principles the founding fathers laid forth in the Declaration of Independence & Constitution for “We The People”. It is the collective stories of the people of our diverse nation that creates our cultural heritage, our art and our original music. We need to embrace and share our diverse cultures with each other as Americans.
For me personally the music of my ancestors, gives me an overwhelming sense of pride in all the slaves accomplishments both in music and their contributions to building a new nation. The impact of the original music they gave to the world is staggering. I am a very fortunate man to have been born into such a rich ancestral lineage, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to tell their story and record their music as well as create music inspired by the spirituals sound & the frequency to heal embodied in their music. For me, music and the spirituals have been a way I go within my soul to connect with God to renew and refresh and be the best I can be each and every day. A principle passed down from my ancestors that I have taken to heart and I cherish greatly.
Maya Angelou said about herself, and what we could say about our nation “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” It wasn’t easy for any of our ancestors, no matter what culture they came from or how they got here. Building a new nation wasn’t easy. It took every slave and non-slave to build our nation. We need to know and acknowledge that. Today we live in a world that is driven by fear and separation and many times we can feel lost and alone, The songs of my ancestors helped me to know who I am and deal with the fears and difficulties that any of us face. When I was a young boy living in North Carolina, I am the baby of 9, my family was country poor and the lack of food was the norm for us. I used to think sugar water was a meal, and if I was lucky enough to get one of my Moms biscuits too I was grateful. My parents did their best to make us all feel loved, but times were hard and we moved often. So when I discovered the spirituals, and that I could play them on my guitar, I found the spiritual food I needed that took the hunger pains away and the fear I had of not knowing if we might move in the dark of night again. So I played, and played and played the music of my ancestors to comfort my fears, and many nights I slept with my guitar in hand. I didn’t care where the spirituals came from at the time, I was just grateful to have them as a friend who would comfort my young soul. These spirituals helped those who before me and kept them safe too. The spirituals have made many generations feel safe, including the Civil Rights Movement. This music keeps me in touch with who I am and where I came from. The music teaches me to be grateful every moment of every day. I am proud of my heritage and my ancestors. Our stories bring us together, would you like to share your story? I want to know!