Calvin Earl
As A Singer / Songwriter / Guitarist / Storyteller / Activist - I Share The Stories And Music Of Our Americana Musical Heritage & History.

What’s In A Name?

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What do we call the secret & sacred songs created by the slaves in America, and why have they been given so many names?

Fact #1. There is no doubt it is an original music created on American soil by enslaved Africans.

Fact #2. Although the slaves in America were of African descent, their original music has no resemblance to African music.

Fact #3 The slaves created a whole new musical structure that does not fit the standard musical scale used in all music around the world including African & European music.

Fact #4 This original music created by the slaves became the foundation of the fantastic American musical art forms of Jazz, Blues, R & B, and Gospel.

So what is the problem? Is it the stigma of being an unknown slave while creating this original music? Or is it the fact, the slaves created this music while they labored in the fields or serviced the homes of their masters? Is it shame or guilt that makes us feel uncomfortable to listen to, discuss and embrace with gratitude what our ancestors endured so we could live a life of freedom? Did they not pay their full measure to be called American? Isn’t this rare and distinctive music created by the slaves in this country a music that captures the vibrant essence and beauty of our common humanity world wide? What inspires me most is that the slaves created this magnificent music in the midst of their own personal, unacknowledged despair while in bondage. Their music is a testimony to life itself. It is a vision of hope and courage beyond measure. Their music was their voice. Their message was and still is a wake up call to humanity.

Fact #5 These secret & sacred songs are an American National Treasure, FOR REAL. In February 2007 both House Resolution 120 and Senate Resolution 69 passed by unanimous vote to honor the slaves for their contributions to our nation with our deepest gratitude and respect and recognized the African American Spiritual as a National Treasure.

R E S P E C T & G R A T I T U D E


Black & Beautiful

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In my SOS roots blog, I will be talking about the true essence of the black spirituals created by the slaves in America. The spirituals were born in the back fields, because that’s where the slaves worked. I’m tired of the spirituals being devalued in there original form just because they were created by unknown slaves. What’s wrong with the spirituals in their original form? Are their humble beginnings their down fall? Since the slaves created this music without the standard musical scale why not honor such an amazing achievement? I say no more bulling of the spirituals, these are secret sacred songs of our ancestors who made a way out of no way to create a music so beautiful that many musical genre’s have been created out of the spirituals sound. An historical perspective and my opinion stands firm with Langston Hughes who says it best in his poem:

Langston Hughes

You’ve taken my blues and gone–
You sing ’em on Broadway
And you sing ’em in Hollywood Bowl,
And you mixed ’em up with symphonies
And you fixed ’em
So they don’t sound like me.
Yep, you done taken my blues and gone.

You also took my spirituals and gone.
You put me in MacBeth and Carmen Jones
And all kinds of Swing Mikados
And in everything but what’s about me–
But someday somebody’ll
Stand up and talk about me,
And write about me–
Black and beautiful–
And sing about me,
And put on plays about me!
I reckon it’ll be
Me myself!

Yes, it’ll be me.

Words Have The Power To Diminish Or Lift Up Ideas

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No one likes to talk about or recall the horrific unjust events of human history that have taken place around the world. However painful the history, it is foolish to believe that silence regarding any history will not impact history in the making. Silence is an action, and a cowardice action at that. Until you see yourself in others, you will never truly see yourself and know who you are. All change takes time. Most people I’ve meet of all races and colors don’t want to be considered only by their skin color, they want you to know the content of their character and the struggles & contributions of their ancestors. We don’t have to accept a label thrust upon us as a collective group or individual. Each of us is unique. So how do we move past the labels that cause so much pain and suffering even today? We can’t change history, but we can see our history from a broader perspective.

For those of us like myself whose ancestors were born into slavery and labeled 3/5th human at the time, have had a lasting affect on how we view ourselves as human beings. Until we view our beloved ancestors as they truly were, productive citizens who worked tirelessly along side the settlers to build a new nation, our lives will continue to be diminished to the color of our skin and false lies. This doesn’t have to be. know your history and see for yourself as the US Congress honors the slaves for their contributions to our nation with our deepest gratitude and respect and recognized the African American spiritual as a national treasure. WATCH THIS CSPAN VIDEO IT IS AMERICAN HISTORY!

Believe In Your Dreams!

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I had this idea several years ago that was born out of what I deemed a necessity to include the valuable accomplishments & contributions the slaves made in American history. I wanted the US Congress to honor and acknowledge our former slave brothers and sisters for their contributions to our nation and have the Black Spirituals recognized as an American National Treasure. So with faith as my guide I dared to dream…… I believed the idea was so important I didn’t even stop to think or look at the obstacles I might face, and their were many I faced. It is because I have such gratitude and pride in my ancestors I was not willing to wait any longer to honor the slaves, because it was the right thing to do. By nature I am a driven person and passionate about the spirituals but I am also inspired by people who dare to believe in possibilities that aren’t in existence yet, but are willing to sacrifice their own lives for the service of others. Dr. King said: “On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?” Expediency asks the question, “Is it politic?” And Vanity comes along and asks the question, “Is it popular?” But Conscience asks the question, “Is it right?”… The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of convenience, but where he stands in moments of challenge, moments of great crisis and controversy.”

Do you know how many people told me no or that my idea was impossible? Do you know what it takes to have the US Congress come to an unanimous vote in both Houses of Congress? This video documents my journey, and for those of you who don’t know in 2007 the Unites States Congress passed unanimous Twin Resolutions to Honor the slaves for their contributions to our nation with our deepest gratitude and respect and recognize the African American Spiritual as a national treasure.

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