The Holy Blues - The Holy Blues American Blues Music...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–8. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
The Holy Blues American Blues Music
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Straddling the Great Divide On the surface, the idea of Holy Blues seems oxymoronic: Blues was the “Devil’s Music” according to the early African-American Church Holy music was “the music of the saints” Blues celebrated the flesh Holy music celebrated the spirit Blues celebrated worldly pleasures Holy music celebrated the release from worldly bondage Our mythology has lead us to believe that each form of music exists “on either side of a dualist divide crossed only at peril to one’s soul” Such mythology comes from the stories of Tommy and Robert Johnson selling their souls to the Devil, or Peetie Wheatstraw, who called himself “The Devil’s Son-In-Law” “the High Sheriff From Hell”
Background image of page 2
In part this has some cultural truth to it and does not exist ONLY as the product of the white imagination recreating the image of the bluesman. But what we don’t always appreciate is that the line was much thinner in African- American Culture… Musicians who played the blues (remember they weren’t known as “bluesmen” in the 1920s or 1930s) frequently walked on both sides of the divide. But to fully understand this duality, we need to look at the early cultural context of Africans in the New World
Background image of page 3

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Cultural Context and Cultural Cores As we know, the majority of slaves did not come to North America directly from Africa. But even having prior exposure to European cultures was not enough to give the slaves a cultural core: someplace to create their own unique culture. This wouldn’t come until the rise of the African-American church. The first known baptism of an African in the North American colonies took place in 1641 But for almost 100 years there was no push to Christianize Africans, until: The “Great Awakening” of the 1730s.
Background image of page 4
The Great Awakening When John Wesley brought his “Methodism” to America there began a new emphasis to teach Christianity, as Wesley interpreted it, to the slaves. And what teaching included were lessons in the Holy Bible, and hymns. In 1755 Rev. Samuel Davies wrote: “I cannot help but observe that the negroes, above all of the human species that I ever knew, have the nicest ear for music. They had a kind of ecstatic delight in psalmody.” By 1800 over a million Blacks lived in America, accounting for almost 20% of the nation’s population. More than 100,000 were free, and among them were Blacks who would found the first African American churches.
Background image of page 5

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Among them was Richard Allen who founded the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia. He also published the first American hymnal designed for use by a Black congregation The church began in a blacksmith’s shop but the whole building was actually moved in order to be used as a church.
Background image of page 6
The creation of Black churches was a dual response: Many whites felt uneasy about Blacks attending their houses of worship Blacks felt that they needed their own community center that could exist outside white sanction and observation
Background image of page 7

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Image of page 8
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Page1 / 25

The Holy Blues - The Holy Blues American Blues Music...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 8. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online