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African-American Spirituals: Roots & Reverberations

African-American Spirituals: Roots & Reverberations

From the sounds of West Africa to the potent music and messages of spirituals to the styles of gospel, blues and hip-hop, this session traces a proud and rich American musical tradition.

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  • This form is for inquiry purposes only, and does not guarantee participation. A member of our staff will contact you to coordinate schedules based on seat availability, age range, etc.

  • Schools Only
Curriculum Resources

Bridge Sessions easily intersect with state standards for music education, as well as standards for many other classroom subjects. Although no advance preparation is necessary to attend, we encourage teachers to connect Bridge Sessions back to your classrooms. Please contact us if any additional information would be helpful.

Musical Genres
Spirituals, gospel, blues, jazz, hip-hop

Vocals, keyboard, percussion

Music You’ll Hear
Wade in the Water
Go Down, Moses
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

Key Vocabulary
Coded language
Call and response


  • Evolution of music in the Americas due to the Trans-Atlantic slave trade
  • Spirituals as a form of resistance by enslaved people: connection to culture, maintaining hope and wholeness, communicating hidden messages
  • Oral traditions for passing down stories and heritage
  • Spirituals’ influence on later styles of music, such as blues, jazz and hip-hop
  • How changing music/rhythm can change the mood or meaning of a song