African American Gospel Music

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Slave owners forbid African Americans from using their traditional ancestral instruments and music, and this produced the new African American style of music, gospel. Before gospel became the black mainstream music of the 20th century, black churches were the only safe place for African Americans to praise God as a congregation without the fear of white intrusion. Slaves shared stories of their horrible living conditions through gospel songs. They believed that by enduring the struggles of everyday life, they will be rewarded with life after death in heaven with God. Slavery’s deleterious effect on African Americans fueled the creation of gospel music, which became an effective and resourceful medium for slaves to spread God’s good news throughout…show more content…
The good news of Jesus Christ was illustrated in gospel songs. Field hollers became a way to praise God, but in a working environment. Many gospel songs focus on two major themes, rather than just one, and the message from the song can change depending on the person who is listening to it. The song “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” is a notable example of this idea. In the eyes of a 19th century Caucasian man, this song exemplified heaven as home; however, every slave knew that heaven was their refuge from life’s hardships. The songs “Amazing Grace” and “Go Down, Moses” are also excellent examples of gospel songs that share the good news of God. “Amazing Grace” has become popularized throughout the Christian religion and shares a message of hope and redemption. “Amazing Grace” speaks about being redeemed, because Jesus Christ washed away our sins when he died on the cross. Even if someone has sinned, the person can believe in God and be sent to heaven where he will prosper and be saved from damnation. There is a biblical story in which a man named Moses was given many opportunities by God to deliver the Israelites free from Pharaoh’s rule. The slaves conveyed this message into the song “Go Down, Moses.” Slaves believed that Moses would appear again and tell the white slave owners to let God’s people (the slaves) go. These few, out of numerous, songs displayed…show more content…
Many abolitionists and abolitionist groups started to form and peak in popularity. Due to that, slaves began revolting against their slaves owners. During the 1900s, people circled around very important buildings in many movements and strikes. Many important movements were also advertised through these songs, and then, because of the songs, gradually, people started joining the movements. For example, the song “Ezekiel Saw the Wheel” encouraged slaves to partake in the Underground Railroad. The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes and safe houses that helped African American slaves to escape into free states or Canada. This movement was aided by abolitionists and allies who were sympathetic of the cause. Another abolitionist movement that became very popular was led by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott. They were prominent figures in the women’s rights movement who were influenced by gospel music. She organized the first women’s rights convention and formed the National Women’s Loyal League. Her self-determination helped a large amount of people. These are just a few examples of outcomes that occurred because of gospel music. Gospel music was an effective response to slavery, for as it spread across the South, movements associating with abolitionist groups occurred frequently and soon slaves were emancipated. At black churches, African Americans were able to freely express their beliefs in God. Slaves
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