April 14, 2024

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African American Music is Universally Acclaimed as the Original American Music

It was around the 1920s when African American cultural music and sound was heard throughout the nation and the world by the Fisk University chorus and later became “universally acclaimed as the original American music”.

In all of African American history, since the time the first generations of the enslaved from various areas and groups of the African continent became one people as one ethnic group in the USA through what is known as merger ethnogenesis, this new people began to cultivate something never heard in the United States or anywhere else in the world. This music began in the plantation fields. 

Music was the one thing that enslavement couldn’t take from the descendants of the enslaved, and it was through their style of music which they developed in the USA, that not only taught them but carried them through the worst days. The music was also a way, sometimes the only way, to pass down their “character and soul”, according to 1920s writer, lecturer and contributor to the NY Tribune Cleveland G. Allen, and about 300 years after the 1600s, it would be the first time the nation and the world would take note and actually listen to the music, or the soul, of the African American, Allen stated as the “priceless heritage that ought to be treasured”.

Known as plantation songs due to it being the birthplace of the African American songs, the music grew as a sacred part of African American heritage because they are set apart and unique to this group of people, and lauded by everyone from Booker T. Washington to W.E.B DuBois and a plethora of musicians of today and of the past.

African American music was built in their soul, which is why it is called soul music today. The music was an expression of their strength, determination, sorrows and hope for better days, never revenge, and the latter is because they knew it wasn’t the Way, that meant the way of Jesus. Through the Bible, they learned the way of true Christianity, realizing that it wasn’t anything like the false form of religion which many white men of that day created to enhance their own need for greed and power. This wasn’t the Jesus of the Bible. 

The Christianity of the African American followed the true words of Jesus Christ, love and not hatred, justice and not injustice, hope and freedom, not captivity and hopelessness. African Americans fell in love with Jesus through faith and their songs revealed their souls. One can recall the story of King David in the Bible who was a songwriter, musician and Psalmist who was a man after God’s own heart, so were African Americans in their calls to the Lord in honest, pure hearted songs, having learned the scriptures, making songs with them.

It was in 1871 when the African American choir known as the Fisk Singers of Fisk University, an HBCU,  decided to take the hidden songs public, and when they did sing, the sound made it all the way through the entire nation and even overseas to Queen Victoria, where it is recorded in the NY Tribune of 1920 that “she wept before the songs of this band of singers from the South” of the United States of America. Fisk University became known as the 1st to introduce the African American sound to America and the world.

In the words of  writer and lecturer for NY Tribune Cleveland G. Allen in 1920, “Perhaps the best testimony in this music is that after 300 years it still lives, gaining more in favor and earning the commendation of all classes and universally acclaimed as the original American Music.”