Civil War and Reconstruction

Read what Fisk Jubilee Singer Ella Shepard wrote about spirituals.

The slave songs were never used by us in public. They were associated with slavery and the dark past, and represented things to be forgotten. Then, too, they were sacred to our parents who used them in their religious worship and shouted over them. 

We finally grew willing to sing them privately…we practiced softly, learning from each other the songs of our fathers. We did not dream of ever using them in public. Had Mr. White suggested such a thing, we certainly had rebelled. 

After many months we began to appreciate the wonderful beauty and power of our songs; but continued to sing in public the usual choruses, duets, solos, etc. Occasionally two or three slave songs were sung at the close of the concert. But the demand of the public changed this order. Soon the land rang with our slave songs.

   Civil War and Reconstruction >>  Reconstruction >>  How They Lived >>  Music and the Arts

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