Roots A historY OF AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSIC

The Poster for Roots

On February 10, me and a couple friends went to watch one of my friends, Zeke Michael, perform with the Gainesville Master Chorale and Orchestra at the Historic Thomas Center. The performance was called Roots. The performance was on the history of African Gospel and Spiritual music. The performance started in the jungles of Uganda before slavery and ended in the suburbs of New York City in the 1990s.

Picture of Roots Concert. The picture does have me in the very back (see red circle). I sadly did not take a picture of myself at the event because I wasn't expecting myself to use this as my project.

While at Roots, I learned how music like hip hop, Gospel, and even some country was influenced directly from Western African culture. Due to the slaves' lives, lack of education, and hardships, many slaves learned to communicate via singing. This soon led to incorporating other forms of Western African culture like dancing into songs and hymns. Apparently, many songs also had codes in them for methods or paths of escape to freedom. For example, in the song, "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" the verse, "over Jordan, and what did I see? I saw a band of angels coming after me." The verse refers to the river Jordan, but it actually means, the Ohio River which on the opposite banks led to Canada and freedom.

Being at Roots really showed me how African music became part of the culture nowadays here in the United States. People always claim that "black music" is not wholesome nor appropriate examples being rap, but in reality, a lot of the music we find calming or appropriate like Gospel originated due to Western African culture. I find it fascinating that we as people can be so ignorant that we hate black music but at the same time approve of it. The only irony is that we don't know we are contradicting ourselves.

The art here was of musical art, but it still showed relevance to this class in the form of culture appreciation, racial justice, and respect for intercultural history. Who knew that a concert I went to for supporting a friend would open my eyes to African music and how it has influenced the modern age.

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