Jazz was a direct descendent of spirituals music. Spiritual songs are songs that were original creations of African Americans. Negro Spirituals was another name used to categorize this music. It originated from their beliefs, combined with their struggles of subjugation, oppression, and the brutality associated with slavery. African American music of that time performed in a group and included chants that are very similar to the choir songs heard in some of today's Black Baptist churches. It's also worth mentioning black poets have always written poetry that was consistent with negro spirituals.
Origin of the “Spiritual Songs”
Wikipedia states that Blues, gospel music, country music, jazz, and R & B were direct derivatives of spiritual music. In simple terms, negro spirituals influence the spirit, but for educational purposes, I will give a more thorough review of the origins of African American spirituals. Upon doing a little research, I was fascinated with the connection between spiritual music, poetry, and jazz, their roots, and the historical experience of the so-called African American.
I was personally creating music about life that spoke to some of my experiences, observations, and perspective while highlighting significant historical events. My upbringing influenced me, but it was amazing to realize what I was creating was connected to a rich musical history and from something deep in our collective history. Again songs which I like to call poems (Psalms) in written form is where it all started. The written form is the poem; the vocal is the spoken word or song.
Our lives are poems, how we live is our poetry, and the music we produce and listen to is our spiritual language. Is that too much? Music speaks to us in a way that words cannot. It pierces the heart!
Sound, beats, bass, and the sound of strings is a language. A spiritual language! Music sets the foundation for your emotional state; it allows you to be more accepting and connected to not only the message of the music but also your thoughts and body. Music opens the heart and overrides the clutter. Music speaks to the soul! An example is a music that is continuously played on the radio eventually turns into messages that are played over and over in your mind, which over time will influence your behaviors.
Spiritual music is rich, powerful, compassionate, and a rich history shared among all people. It has influenced the hearts of the stubborn, maintained hope for many, and reminded us all of the passionate wisdom. Here are some examples of well-known artists within the jazz, soul, hip hop, country, and R&B genres. Below are just a few artists that were not typically classified as gospel artists or negro spiritual music, but their music is based on African American negro spirituals.
Some of the artists include:
John Coltrane - I'll wait and pray
Billy Holiday & Nina Simone - Strange Fruit
Hugh Masekela - His Entire Collection
Lauryn Hill - Conquering Lion
Donny Hathaway - Someday We'll Be Free
Willie Nelson - In God's Eyes
Bob Marley - Thank You, Lord
Patti Griffin - Up To The Mountain (MLK Song)
Spiritual music is the original American music genre; it is freedom music, and it is deeply seeded in the historical and present-day experiences of people worldwide. It is a music that is both educational and spiritual. Spirituality and freedom go hand in hand! Freedom will require you to access, challenge, and move your spirit. NOTE: I am not saying only negroes or blacks can create this music, but rather, this type of music originated from the African American experience. Furthermore, white, yellow, and brown people have continued to make enormous contributions to this foundational music genre. Music is colorblind!
HIP HOP Influence -Drums used in Africa for many forms of communication. When the colonizers realized the power link between drums and communication, drums were no longer allowed! It is quite interesting that drums and that beat were one of the main elements that drive hip hop music.
My music, in general, is as much poetry as it is spiritual, is as much freedom as it is jazz and is as much folk as it is alternative hip hop. It is music that is rooted in a spiritual experience while also holding on to those things that we value. And that is freedom. My songs are simply songs about freeing your mind, living powerfully, songs about life, songs about struggle, and ultimately freedom songs about victory! Just music, man, It's my sound, my voice!
Jazz Fusion is not only a mixture of electronic, rock, folk, jazz, blues, and contemporary sounds. But a sound that encompasses the historical and present-day experiences of the artists that create the music.