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Slave Songs of the United States was a collection of African American music consisting of 136 songs. Published in 1867, it was the first, and most influential,collection of spirituals to be published. The collectors of the songs were Northern abolitionists William Francis Allen, Lucy McKim Garrison, and Charles Pickard Ware. It is a "milestone not just in African American music but in modern folk history". It is also the first published collection of African-American music of any kind.
The making of the book is described by Samuel Charters, with an emphasis on the role of Lucy McKim Garrison.A segment of History Detectives explored the book's history and significance.
Several notable and popular songs in the book include:
Spirituals is a genre of music that is "purely and solely the creation" of generations of African Americans, which merged African cultural heritage with the experiences of being held in bondage in slavery, at first during the transatlantic slave trade—the largest and most inhumane forced migration in recorded human history, and for centuries afterwards, through the domestic slave trade. Spirituals encompass the "sing songs", work songs, and plantation songs that evolved into the blues, and the gospel songs in church. In the nineteenth century, the word "spirituals" referred to all these subcategories of folk songs. While they were often rooted in biblical stories, they also described the extreme hardships endured by African Americans who were enslaved from the 17th century until the 1860s. From its roots in African music, new derivative music genres emerged from the spirituals songcraft.
A work song is a piece of music closely connected to a form of work, either sung while conducting a task or a song linked to a task which might be a connected narrative, description, or protest song.
Charles Pickard Ware (1840–1921), was an American educator and music transcriber. An abolitionist, he served as a civilian administrator in the Union Army, where he was a labor superintendent of freedmen on plantations at Port Royal, South Carolina, during the American Civil War. This included Seaside Plantation. It is here that he transcribed many slave songs with tunes and lyrics, later published in Slave Songs of the United States, which he edited with William Francis Allen and Lucy McKim Garrison. It was the first published collection of American folk music.
"Michael, Row the Boat Ashore" is an African-American spiritual first noted during the American Civil War at St. Helena Island, one of the Sea Islands of South Carolina. The best-known recording was released in 1960 by the U.S. folk band The Highwaymen; that version briefly reached number-one hit status as a single.
This is a timeline of music in the United States prior to 1819.
This is a timeline of music in the United States from 1950 to 1969.
This is a timeline of music in the United States from 1970 to the present.
The West Virginia Folklore Society was an organization devoted to studying and collecting folklore in the United States, founded in 1913. It was among the most prominent such organizations in the early 20th century.
This is a timeline of music in the United States from 1820 to 1849.
This timeline of music in the United States covers the period from 1850 to 1879. It encompasses the California Gold Rush, the Civil War and Reconstruction, and touches on topics related to the intersections of music and law, commerce and industry, religion, race, ethnicity, politics, gender, education, historiography and academics. Subjects include folk, popular, theatrical and classical music, as well as Anglo-American, African American, Native American, Irish American, Arab American, Catholic, Swedish American, Shaker and Chinese American music.
This is a timeline of music in the United States from 1880 to 1919.
This is a timeline of music in the United States from 1920 to 1949.
Lucy McKim Garrison, born in Philadelphia, was an American song collector and co-editor of Slave Songs of the United States, together with William Francis Allen and Charles Pickard Ware.
Victor-Eugene McCarty, a Louisiana Creole, was one of the first of several prominent free black composers in New Orleans, best known for publishing Fleurs de salon: 2 Favorite Polkas in 1854. In the 1840s he was among the first black men to study music abroad, at the Paris Conservatory.
During the American Civil War, music played a prominent role on both sides of the conflict: Union and Confederate. On the American Civil War battlefield, different instruments including bugles, drums, and fifes were played to issue marching orders or sometimes simply to boost the morale of one's fellow soldiers. Singing was also employed not only as a recreational activity but as a release from the inevitable tensions that come with fighting in a war. In camp, music was a diversion away from the bloodshed, helping the soldiers deal with homesickness and boredom. Soldiers of both sides often engaged in recreation with musical instruments, and when the opposing armies were near each other, sometimes the bands from both sides of the conflict played against each other on the night before a battle.
Thomas Baker was a nineteenth-century composer and musical producer.
"Rock O' My Soul", also known as "Rock My Soul", "Bosom of Abraham" or "Rocka My Soul", is a traditional African American spiritual. It was first documented by William Francis Allen, in the 1867 collection Slave Songs of the United States. Allen attributed the origin of the song to the state of Virginia and documented the following lyrics.
Rock o' my soul in de bosom of Abraham,
Rock o' my soul in de bosom of Abraham, Rock o' my soul in de bosom of Abraham,
Lord, Rock o' my soul.
"Roll, Jordan, Roll", also "Roll, Jordan", is a spiritual created by enslaved African Americans, developed from a song written by Isaac Watts in the 18th century which became well-known among slaves in the United States during the 19th century. Appropriated as a coded message for escape, by the end of the American Civil War it had become known through much of the eastern United States. In the 19th century, it helped inspire blues, and it remains a staple in gospel music.
Henry Louis "Skip" Gates Jr. is an American literary critic, professor, historian, filmmaker, and public intellectual who serves as the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. He rediscovered the earliest African-American novels, long forgotten, and has published extensively on appreciating African-American literature as part of the Western canon.