The spiritual song arose as a way for enslaved Africans in America to share experiences when talking was not allowed, to pass messages, to share burdens and joys, to communicate. Forbidden to sing songs from home and having all cultural practices stripped from them, enslaved Africans turned to the language and religion presented to them and infused its words and music with memory and experience. Rhythmically, melodically and musically these songs, called “corn ditties” in the 1700’s, evolved into an art form so powerful and resilient it has influenced every American musical genre since. From gospel and jazz to rock ‘n’ roll, they all contain threads of the spiritual in their musical tapestry.
There is never a charge for admission to the Festival of Spirituals, as it is our gift to the community. Contributions are always gratefully accepted.