Black American Sacred Music

I confess, I am white, and British and have very little experience or knowledge about a music which has influenced so much of the world’s musical expression over the last century. I confess, I get in a muddle as to what is technically Gospel, Spirituals, Soul, Blues and where those rich and diverse traditions are rooted and how they spread and interacted with the music around them. The whole world shares the sin of the terrible evils that were done and are still being done, through enslaving our fellow human beings and the equally terrible prejudices that still exist around the world, between man and man, man and woman, religious groups, ethnic races, and gender.

So I was apologetic when explaining that my village choir’s summer concert “Stars and Stripes’ was almost certainly confused about the American musical history I was trying to portray in particular the music that came from the Black American slaves. BUT because I met a wonderful singer and teacher Ollie Watts Davis, at the recent mini-conference in Berlin, I have at least an opportunity to amend my understanding and help others in our small rural village on the south coast of England feel some of the truth of those dark years of American and World history.


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