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5 as slaves were introduced to the european based

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Unformatted text preview: Washington's Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. And third, although they were trained in Classical music and regular Protestant hymns, their fame and popularity arose from their choral singing of spirituals, thus introducing the United States and Europe to African American spirituals. Listening Example: Steal Away Leadbelly Huddie Ledbetter was born around 1885 in Louisiana, and raised on a farm in the Caddo Lake district. Although the Civil War had ended twenty years earlier, most African Americans continued to live in a state of deep poverty and racism not unlike their years of slavery. Leadbelly learned the work songs, spirituals, lullabies and hymns of his community from his elders, and played an accordion given to him by his uncle when he was ten years old. His father later gave him a guitar, and when Leadbelly was sixteen, Huddie left home with the instrument strapped to his back to begin a life of traveling. He worked in a variety of jobs, including as a field hand, horse trainer, mule and oxen driver, and a ranch hand, using his free time to frequent bars and pool houses. In 1918, he met Blind Lemon Jefferson, a young blues singer. The two traveled and worked together, but soon after he was convicted of assault, given a thirty- year term, and sent to a prison in Texas. He remained in prison for over six years, continuing to learn new songs and musical 15 Crossroads: Music of American Cultures (Barkley) Kendall Hunt Publishers, 2013 styles, including the worksong- derived chain- gang chants of his fellow prisoners. He was released in 1925 after performing his music for the governor of Texas. He spent the next five years traveling, singing and accompanying himself with his 12- string guitar until 1930, when he was convicted of murder and imprisoned again, this time in Angola, Louisiana. It was here that John and Alan Lomax "discovered" him during their travels in the South to collect the folk songs of African Americans. With the Lomaxes’ help, Leadbelly was again given a governor's pardon, this time on the basis that he had been "broken" and reformed, and was safe now to be freed. He traveled to New York with the Lomaxes, who arranged for him to participate in their tours of college campuses where they were providing performances of folk music. Two years later he began recording for the American Record Company (later Columbia Records) and also for Folkways Records. Ultimately he recorded over nine hundred songs, and these recordings are considered priceless treasures of American and African- American folk music. Unfortunately, he never achieved commercial success and died nearly penniless. Listening Example: Midnight Special Paul Robeson Paul Robeson, born in 1898 in Princeton, New Jersey, is one of the most extraordinary African Americans of the 20th Century. A brilliant man, he was accomplished in many fields: athletics, academics, and the performing arts. He attended Rutgers University on a scholarship (the third African American to do so). At Rutgers he received highest honors for his debate and oratory skill and was selected as the class valedictorian. He also won an incredible 15 letters in four different sports. After turning his attention to a performing career in the theatre, he acted in classical theatre (Shakespeare) and musicals (Showboat). He also was outspoken about racism, even refusing to perform for segregated audiences. As his sensitivity to the plight of marginalized and oppressed people became more global, he criticized aspects of U.S. foreign policy. After joining the Council for African Affairs, which was listed as a “Subversive Organization,” he incurred the scrutiny of the FBI during the age of McCarthyism. When he refused to recant his support for what was considered pro- Soviet policies, his U.S. passport was denied and he was no longer able to travel or tour outside of the United States. As a consequence, his income (and his health) plummeted. After his passport was restored, he traveled again to Europe, but was paranoid and suicidal, and in England he was given electroshock therapy and heavily drugged. When he returned to the United States, he lived mostly in seclusion, although he gave his support in as many ways as he could during the Civil Rights movement. At a Carnegie Hall tribute to mark his 75th birthday in 1973, he was unable to attend, but instead recorded a message to be played that said, "Though I have not been able to be active for several years, I want you to know that I am the same Paul, dedicated as ever to the worldwide cause of humanity for freedom, peace and brotherhood.” He died in 1976 at the age of 77 and is revered for his incredible intelligence, accomplishments, commitment to human rights, and personal dignity. Listening Example: Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child 16 Crossroads: Music of American Cultures (Barkley) Kendall Hunt Publishers, 2013 17 Crossroads: Music of American Cultures (Barkley) Kendall Hunt Publishers, 2013 Ref...
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