Slavery and the Making of AmericaPhoto of African-American children reading
Time and Place Slave Memories Resources The Slave Experience

The Slave Experience: Education, Arts, & Culture
Intro Historical Overview Character Spotlight Music in Slave Life Personal Narratives Original Docs
Music in Slave Life Education, Arts, & Culture
Today, slave music is usually grouped in three major categories: Religious, Work, and "Recreational" songs. Each type adapted elements of African and European musical traditions and shaped the development of a wide range of music, including gospel, jazz, and blues. Select the songs below to hear the songs, read their lyrics, and explore the instruments involved in the soundscape of slavery.
Religious Songs Work Songs Recreational Songs
Weligious songs were usually sung a cappella and accompanied by handclapping and foot stamping. Photo of an African-American woman Work songs helped slaves synchronize group tasks and eased the burden of difficult labor. Photo of an African-American man working in the cotton fields In their free time, slaves listened and danced to music performed on string instruments. Photo of an African-American man playing the banjo
Songs Songs Songs
email this page to a friend
About the Series K-12 Learning Feedback [an error occurred while processing this directive]Support PBS
more more more Look Down That Long, Lonesome Road Run Old Jeremiah Do, Lord, Remember Me House Done Built Without Hands Meet Me in Jerusalem Arwhoolie (Cornfield holler) Quittin' Time Song 2 Mealtime Call Hammer, Ring It Makes a Long Time Man Feel Bad Shortnin' Bread Bile Them Cabbage Down Rosey Soldier's Joy Go to Sleep