Retro Music Monday – African-American Music

"The Banjo Lesson," by Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1893. Oil on canvas, 49″ × 35½″. Hampton University Museum
“The Banjo Lesson,” by Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1893. Oil on canvas, 49″ × 35½″. Hampton University Museum


From Wikipedia

The influence of African Americans on mainstream American music began in the 19th century, with the advent of blackface minstrelsy. The banjo, of African origin, became a popular instrument, and its African-derived rhythms were incorporated into popular songs by Stephen Foster and other songwriters. In the 1830s, the Second Great Awakening led to a rise in Christian revivals and pietism, especially among African Americans. Drawing on traditional work songs, enslaved African Americans originated and began performing a wide variety of Spirituals and other Christian music. Some of these songs were coded messages of subversion against slaveholders, or that signaled escape.


Field Holler is one type of African American music.

The field holler is a type of formless, and sometimes wordless vocal expression used by slaves in the cotton fields of the “Deep South“, especially in the Mississippi Delta, to communicate or to vent feelings, hence the name “field holler”. It is closely related to the call and response of work songs, prison chain gangs, railway gangs, and arhoolies, to Afro-American spirituals and ultimately to African American music in general such as the blues and the rhythm and blues.[1]

Alan Lomax, Convicts singing in woodyard, Reed Camp, South Carolina, 1934
Alan Lomax, Convicts singing in woodyard, Reed Camp, South Carolina, 1934

Field hollers, cries and hollers of the slaves working in cotton fields, turpentine camps is seen as the precursor to the call and response of African American spirituals and gospel music, to jug bands, minstrel shows, stride piano, and ultimately to the blues, to the rhythm and blues, to jazz and to African American music in general.[1]



Soul Food Sunday

Simone Weil was right, there are only two things that pierce the human heart: beauty and affliction. Moments we wish would never end and moments we wish had never begun. What are we to make of these messengers? How are we to interpret what they are saying?

John Eldredge from Desire

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Retro Music Monday

I’m going to start another regular feature about music. I’d like to explore the roots of rock and roll and I’m going to start with Jimmie Rogers (1897-1933) also known as The Singing Brakeman: the Father of Country Music. He brings the blues, country and folk together. One of his most famous trademarks was his yodel.

Jimmie Rogers from the Biography website
Jimmie Rogers from the Biography website

His first job was as a water boy for the railroad and that’s where he learned how to strum and pick the guitar. During his time on the railroads he would’ve heard the work chants of the African American railroad workers. They were called gandy dancers. The British term is navvy from the word navigator.

Ready, Set, Done – Blogging 101- Make a Prompt Personal

My interpretation of the Daily Prompt: Ready, Set, Done

Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in Far and Away(1992)

The Days in Boston


Far and Away - Plunge and Scrub scene
Far and Away – Plunge and Scrub scene

Courtesy the metacafe site:

What are you looking at?
l’m just trying to figure out what you’re doing there.
lt’s obvious what l’m doing. l’m cleaning my clothes.
l see.
Do you ever wonder why it takes you so long?
My clothes, if you notice, if you look about…
are washed and hung
Your talent astounds me, Joseph.
Move over. Move over.
lf you want to clean your clothes, you have to get your hands wet.
First, you place the board like so.
You take the soap in your right hand, the clothes in the left.
Then you brush the soap across the clothes twice.
Like so.
Then you plunge and scrub.
You plunge and scrub.
And plunge and scrub and lift.
And if it’s still not clean, well, then you go again.
You plunge and scrub.
You keep on plunging and scrubbing…
till all your plunging and scrubbing is done.


For the movie clip click here