African American Influence On Music

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African American influence in music has been an ever present and controversial subject in American history. Stemming from many different cultures, religions and backgrounds, large portions of American music was introduced by, and credited to African Americans. Although in many cases, this music was used for entertainment by the masses or majority, contrary to popular belief, black music served a greater purpose than just recreation. Dating all the way back to the beginning of slavery in the U.S. during the 17th century, music has been used to make a statement and send a message. As African American music progressed over the years, there were common themes expressed as the genres evolved. It has been an open letter to the world, documenting and protesting the ongoing oppression faced by blacks in the United States, as well as an outlet for frustration. For many African Americans, the music gave them the only voice that couldn’t be silenced by their oppressors.
Negro spirituals was a “genre” of music introduced by African American slaves in response to their lives and treatment by the white race. It gave many slaves the voice of opposition that they never had and allowed them to subliminally speak against their masters without fear of consequences. Said to have originated from slaves who were “Unable to read the Bible for themselves and skeptical of their masters’ interpretation of it…” (Raboteau). These songs were “… the message of the Christian gospel… translated… into
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