The Journey

Click the audio below in order to explore the evolution of African music in America. Be sure to turn your speakers ON.

Type
African Music | Gullah Music
African Music | Gullah Music

Audio

Music was an important tradition in Africa centuries before Africans were brought to America. Singing was a part of everyday life when people were at work, worship or play. The drum was the most...
Middle Passage | Gullah Music
Middle Passage | Gullah Music

Audio

European slave traders brought Africans to the New World on ships as early as the 1400s. These voyages across the Atlantic Ocean are called the Middle Passage. It was a terrible experience for the...
Work Song | Gullah Music
Work Song | Gullah Music

Audio

Enslaved Africans sang songs as they worked to help keep the pace of the task they were doing. A leader called out a verse or yell and others responded. This is the call-and-response singing tradition...
Spirituals | Gullah Music
Spirituals | Gullah Music

Audio

Spirituals developed at the same time as work songs on the plantations. Although they were religious songs with a Christian message, spirituals were also heartfelt expressions of the slave experience...
Blues | Gullah Music
Blues | Gullah Music

Audio

After the Civil War and emancipation, freed men and women struggled to find work and make a new life for their families. The songs about these difficult times were called the blues, a musical style...
Gospel | Gullah Music
Gospel | Gullah Music

Audio

After slavery ended, some African American churches shifted from traditional spirituals to a new kind of religious music called gospel. This style of music brought together the elements of the “shout”...
Jazz | Gullah Music
Jazz | Gullah Music

Audio

Jazz music was born out of the blues. The key element was syncopation (syn-co-pa-tion) that stressed the off beats of the rhythm. In the same way that Gullah language is a mixture of African and...
Country | Gullah Music
Country | Gullah Music

Audio

Country music as we know it today grew out of blues and folk music. In country music’s earliest form, southern musicians both white and black, created music for the working class that told stories...
Rock and Roll | Gullah Music
Rock and Roll | Gullah Music

Audio

Blues and country music contributed to a style called rhythm and blues. This was an early form of what we now call rock and roll. It appealed to a younger audience that liked to dance to the sounds of...
Pop & Soul | Gullah Music
Pop & Soul | Gullah Music

Audio

Rhythm and blues was an early form of rock and roll but it also contributed to a smoother sounding musical style called soul. In 1960, Berry Gordy, Jr. began a recording label in Detroit, Michigan...