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

Black history month facts!

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Whereas beginning in 1619, when slavery was introduced into the European colonies, enslaved Africans remained in bondage until 1865, when the United States ratified the 13th amendment to the Constitution;
Whereas during that period of the history of the United States, the first expression of that unique American music was created by enslaved African Americans who–
(1) used their knowledge of the English language and the Christian religious faith, as it had been taught to them in the New World; and
(2) stealthily wove within the music their experience of coping with human servitude and their strong desire to be free;
Whereas, as a method of survival, enslaved African Americans who were forbidden to speak their native languages, play musical instruments they had used in Africa, or practice their traditional religious beliefs, relied on their strong African oral tradition of songs, stories, proverbs, and historical accounts to create this original music, now known as spirituals;
Whereas Calvin Earl, a noted performer and educator on African American spirituals, remarked that the Christian lyrics became a metaphor for freedom from slavery, a secret way for slaves to `communicate with each other, teach their children, record their history, and heal their pain’;
Whereas the New Jersey Historical Commission found that `some of those daring and artful runaway slaves who entered New Jersey by way of the Underground Railroad no doubt sang the words of old Negro spirituals like `Steal Away’ before embarking on their perilous journey north’;
Whereas African American spirituals spread all over the United States, and the songs we know of today may only represent a small portion of the total number of spirituals that once existed;
Whereas Frederick Douglass, a fugitive slave who would become one of the leading abolitionists of the United States, remarked that the spirituals `told a tale of woe which was then altogether beyond my feeble comprehension; they were tones loud, long, and deep; they breathed the prayer and complaint of souls boiling over with the bitterest anguish. Every tone was a testimony against slavery and a prayer to God for deliverance from chains. …’; and
Whereas the American Folklife Preservation Act (Public Law 94-201; 20 U.S.C. 2101 note) finds that `the diversity inherent in American folklife has contributed greatly to the cultural richness of the nation and has fostered a sense of individuality and identity among the American people’: Now, therefore, be it

• Resolved, That the House of Representatives–

◦ (1) recognizes that African American spirituals are a poignant and powerful genre of music that have become one of the most significant segments of American music in existence;

◦ (2) expresses the deepest gratitude, recognition, and honor to the former enslaved Africans in the United States for their gifts to our Nation, including their original music and oral history; and

◦ (3) requests that the President issue a proclamation that reflects on the important contribution of African American spirituals to American history, and naming the African American spiritual a national treasure.

Remembering our ancestors with love and gratitude

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The spirituals began with a moan and groan…….

The slaves created a new rhythm, not to make music for music’s sake instead a cry, a moan or groan was enough to tell God what the slave wanted God to know. The music was not created to be a musical art form, the slave was just having that human moment we all take to let our voice be heard. Essentially with the spirituals, the slaves in America were not allowed to use drums because the slave masters knew the slaves were able to send signals or communicate with the drums, so it was strictly forbidden. Communication was limited amongst the slaves and they needed to find a safe way to communicate their feelings. So the slaves created a music without the drums or external beat that would also express what they felt inside their souls and some how tell their story. What the slaves did was ingenious, they allowed their bodies to feel and replicate the sound they were feeling in their souls transferring that rhythmic feeling to the heels of their feet to keep the rhythm going. Their own vibrational sound from within their souls, would move through their bodies, steadied by the heels of their feet allowing the true essence of their souls to be revealed using direct quotes from the Bible to distract the master from catching on to what they were really talking about. Interestingly, the essence of a spiritual for the slave was expressing his/her innermost feeling to God in an attempt to at least free their souls. If their bodies were in bondage at least their souls could be free. After all freedom is a powerful thought.

H. RES 120 passed! Watch C-Span Video!

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On the morning of February 7, 2007 I was in my car on my way to the Capitol Building in Washington DC to witness the legislation I had put forth, sponsored by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, CT in the US Congress to honor the slaves for their gifts to our nation with our deepest gratitude and respect, and recognize the African American Spiritual as a National Treasure.

I stopped at the toll booth to pay my road toll on the NJ turnpike and as the guy handed me my receipt, my cell phone rings and it’s Dr Cornel West. He says to me “Calvin I wish I could be there with you today to witness in person this historic legislation pass in Congress. I support you 100%, now go in there and show them what it means to Wade In The Water! God bless you brother for what you’ve done.”

Just to name a few people and organizations who gave me their full measure of support:
Dr. Cornel West – Princeton University
Dr Henry Louis Gates Jr. – Harvard University
Dr Dorothy Height – Chair and President Emerita of the National Council of Negro Women
Sidney Poitier
Dr. Clement Price – Rutgers University,
Dr. Arthur C. Jones -The Spirituals Project,
Hilary Shelton- Washington Bureau Director and Senior VP for Advocacy NAACP,
Congressman John Lewis, GA
Congressional Black Caucus members
Senator Barack Obama, IL
Senator Joe Biden, DE
Senator Edward Kennedy, MA
Senator Elizabeth Dole, NC
Senator Hillary Clinton, NY
Senator Robert Menendez, NJ (Sponsor of Twin Resolution S. Res. 69)

A Spiritual Delivers A Message Of Love In A Time Of Tragedy

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To the citizens of the world, I offer you my love and comfort as we try to heal from the senseless hatred and violence inflicted on innocent lives in Paris last week and for far too long everywhere around the world including our own backyard here in America. I can think of no better way to comfort the weary and heartbroken souls than to share an African American spiritual with you. Music has always been used to uplift and console the listener. In American history our beloved slave brothers and sisters created these humble songs to comfort and heal their own pain and suffering. They also needed a way to communicate and release the feelings they had deep within their souls in a time when they were not allowed to have a voice. The spirituals, albeit secretly, also allowed the slave to teach their young, recorded their history and strengthen their beliefs and convictions that staying focused on freedom for all people would be achieved one day.

Sit back and relax as you watch the healing waters and the spiritual sounds of “Deep River” in this music video. I had the great honor of having the brilliant vocalist and musician Katreese Barnes, former and first female African American music director of SNL as a background vocalist on this song and on my album “GRATITUDE” a collection of African American Spirituals. God Bless and comfort you. Praying for peace.

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