This Week on American Black Journal:

Negro Spirituals: The Music That Helped Free Enslaved African Americans

One of the largest and most significant forms of American folksongs, the Negro spiritual, has a long history in America, but how do these religious songs relate to the music heard in the Black church today? “American Black Journal” continues its “Black Church in Detroit” series with a look at the history of Negro spirituals and gospel music, and the influence these two genres have had on contemporary artists.

This story also appeared in DPTV - American Black Journal

“Black gospel music is an offset of the Negro spiritual. One of the main differences between the two is that we are not exactly aware of the composers,” said Dr. Brandon Waddles, a composer, arranger, choir director and music instructor at Wayne State University. “However, there are known composers of famous gospel songs.”

Producer AJ Walker talks with Waddles about how Negro spirituals uplifted enslaved Africans brought to this country and how it served as a universal language that helped lead them to freedom. Plus, they discuss R&B singers, past and present, whose musical roots stemmed from the Black Church.

The Sacred and the Secular: How Gospel Music Grew from the Blues

It was around the 1930s when gospel music first formed, but how did spiritual music transform from hymns to the contemporary music genre we know today? “American Black Journal” continues its “Black Church in Detroit” series with a look at the history of gospel music and its intersection with the blues.

“You had these, sort of, blues musicians, who were looking at how the vitality was slipping out of sacred music, and they combined the blues with the sacred, and that produced gospel,” Baptist pastor and blues musician Rev. Robert Jones, Sr. said.

Host Stephen Henderson sits down with Rev. Jones to explore the connection between the blues and gospel music — the sacred and the secular, and their symbolic, symbiotic relationship. Plus, they discuss gospel music’s roots in the African American community then and today.

Want to See More Gospel Performances?

Closing out the show, “American Black Journal” reaches into its archives for a look back at some of the past gospel music performances that have been featured on the show.

Watch Now:

American Black Journal’s “Black Church in Detroit” series takes a look at the history of negro spiritual folksongs and gospel music in the Black Church. Producer AJ Walker learns more about how gospel music grew out of negro spirituals created by enslaved Africans. Then, host Stephen Henderson hears about the connection between gospel and blues music. Plus, a look at some of the past gospel performances featured on the show.
Read Now at One Detroit.

Stephen Henderson is the Founding Editor of BridgeDetroit, and a former writer and editor for the Detroit Free Press, Baltimore Sun and Chicago Tribune. Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary,...

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