Archive for the ‘Blues and Religion’ Category

Author: LeRoy Moore, Jr.

Source: American Quarterly, Vol. 23, N° 5, Dec., 1971, pp. 658-676


“THE AMERICAN NEGRO SPIRITUALS ARE THE PRODUCT OF THE FUSION OF Christian piety and the slave experience of persons of African descent. Alain Locke designated the antebellum decades beginning about 1830 as the “classic” period of the composition of these songs.  The aptness of his designation is indicated on the one hand by the fact that after the Civil War the songs were available to compilers, cataloguers, commentators and jubilee singers,  and on the other that in the decades immediately before the war circumstances converged to provide the conditions out of which the spirituals arose.”


Author: Alan Lomax


Liner Notes New World Records 80294

“My years of field work in this country convince me that at least half our English-language musical heritage was religious. Indeed, until the rise of the modern entertainment industry most organized musical activity in most American communities centered on the church–for example, the backwoods singing schools discussed below (also see New World Records 80205, White Spirituals from the Sacred Harp) were usually church-sponsored. Today, as modernization wipes out the settings in which secular folk songs were created, the church continues to provide theaters in which new song styles arise to meet the needs of changing forms of worship. The religious revolution that began in the Reformation has continued in wave after wave of revivals, some large, some small, but most expressing the determination of some group to have the kind of music in church that they preferred and in which they could participate. This folk process has enriched the repertory of Protestantism with the patterns of many subcultures and many periods.”





Author: Christian Scharen


 “Over the last year or so I have been laboring at the intersection of church and culture, writing here in The Cresset under the provocatively put statement “Why God loves the Blues.” In my first installment, I told the story of Billie Holiday’s song “Strange Fruit,” showing the ways the blues have expressed the sorrows of an oppressed people. As the story continued in a second installment, I showed how the blues revival (especially in England) positioned the blues as the “devil’s music,” a characterization distorted by British scholars unfamiliar with the complex culture of African American religion and culture. In this last installment, I offer another interpretation of the blues, one that sees the intimate connections between Saturday night and Sunday morning.”