Unit 2: African-American Spirituals with Huxsie
Melody will take us on a journey from Toronto, Canada to Savannah to meet our next artist, Huxsie. Use SG13–15 to meet Huxsie and prepare your students to learn about African-American spirituals.
African-American spirituals originated in the slave quarters of the American south, and are sacred songs with lyrics based on stories from the Old and New Testaments of the Christian Bible. Spirituals are the musical product of West African influences and practices, as well as hymns sung in Anglo-American churches. While spirituals were sung for worship, they were an important part of all aspects of life, and were sung during celebrations, as work songs, as lullabies, and were used as code songs to signal escape plans. After the Civil War, spirituals began to be written down and arranged for soloists, choirs, and instrumentalists, and eventually laid the foundation for other genres of music, including gospel and R&B.
- Harriet Tubman: The Moses of Her People by Sarah Bradford
- On My Journey Now: Looking at African-American History Through the Spirituals by Nikki Giovanni
Listening & Viewing:
- Wade in the Water: African-American Sacred Music Traditions Vol. I-IV (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings)
- Aretha Franklin, Amazing Grace (Atlantic)
- Mahalia Jackson, The Essential Mahalia Jackson (Columbia/Legacy)
Additional Teaching Resources:
- The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center has a number of lesson plans and classroom resources available online for grades K-12.
- “Singing for Justice: Following the Musical Journey of ‘This Little Light of Mine’” Smithsonian Folkways Recordings has a number of lesson plans designed around the traditional and folk music of North America.
- South Carolina ETV’s Education Media Portal includes GullahNet, an interactive learning site about Gullah traditions, music, and language. The portal includes an activity where students must decode a spiritual to help two slaves escape on the Underground Railroad.
SG13 ↓ Download File
SG14 ↓ Download File
SG15 ↓ Download File