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


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