Unit 3: African-American Spirituals and Gospel with Huxsie

Genre Overview

African-American spirituals originated in the enslaved peoples’ living 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.

Meet Huxsie

A native of Savannah, Huxsie Scott has been singing jazz, blues, and gospel for over 40 years. She has appeared on stage with such jazz greats as the late Lionel Hampton and McCoy Tyner, and was the original vocalist for the Savannah Jazz Orchestra. Huxsie was inducted into the Savannah Tribune Gospel Hall of Fame in 2004, and the Coastal Jazz Association’s Hall of Fame in 2005. This is her third appearance with Musical Explorers.

Lesson 1: Exploring “Follow The Drinking Gourd”

Students learn to sing “Follow the Drinking Gourd” and explore the hidden meaning of the song and the code found in the lyrics.
Go to Lesson 1: Exploring “Follow the Drinking Gourd” →

Lesson 2: Learning “This Train is Bound for Glory”

Students explore the meaning of the song, and learn musical opposites of dynamics and tempo.
Go to Lesson 2: Learning “This Train Is Bound For Glory” →

Learn More!



Additional Teaching Resources:

Unit 1: PDF Downloads

↓ SG17 Meet Huxsie!

↓ SG18 We asked Huxsie…

↓ SG19 Follow the Drinking Gourd

↓ SG20 Create Your Own Code

↓ SG21 This Train is Bound for Glory

Unit 1: Audio Tracks

Track 16 – Follow the Drinking Gourd

Track 17 – Follow the Drinking Gourd (Chorus)

Lesson 1: Exploring “Follow the Drinking Gourd” →

Lesson 2: Learning “This Train is Bound for Glory”

Unit 2 – Lesson 2: Exploring “Nessun Dorma”