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From Spiritual to Gospel: A Short History of African-American Music

Kenneth Anderson

The rich literature of African-American music derives from when slaves first arrived in America. Fearful that the music encouraged rebellion, slaveholders banned the songs and instruments. From these restrictions arose the spirituals, which on the surface retold biblical tales but which in actuality were powerful expressions of the slave condition and, in some cases, coded instructions for escape to the North. As time went on, ragtime, blues, jazz, and gospel music evolved. By the 1930s, the close harmonies and a capela singing of gospel gave black church music a unique, soulful sound. This lecture will describe this musical heritage and present a few examples.

Instructor: Kenneth Anderson holds a bachelor’s degree in electronic engineering from UC San Diego and has been a member of the UCSD faculty since 1989. He serves as director of the UCSD Gospel Choir as well as the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Choir and the Grossmont College Gospel Choir. He serves as pastor of the Mount Olive Church in San Diego.

Coordinator: Eileen Coblens

Course Number: OSHR-70025   Credit: 0 units

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