I am interested in the history of Southern Gospels and Spirituals.

  1. How did these styles begin? What are the history's behind them? Can you suggest an article concerning the history?
  2. Are there differences between these styles? If so. What are they?
  3. Can anyone recommend some songs or artist for examples? I am interested in original songs as well as more modern ones and artists from any time range. Basically to get a feel for the style and the way in which it evolved.
  • Just a comment: 1. and 2. are closely related perhaps, but 3. really belongs as a separate question. 1. and 2. will likely discuss the music of Negro slaves in America and how it evolved throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. 3. I presume will discuss 20th century artists.
    – Noldorin
    May 3 '11 at 22:17
  • @Noldorin Yes, mostly. On 3. I was wanting suggested artists from any time range. As well as "original" song suggestions or more "modern" ones. And I know Song recommendations really belong on a separate question but I was afraid that it would be closed as off topic if I made it separate.
    – Dorothy
    May 3 '11 at 22:39
  • 1
    Ah, I see. Perhaps 3. should be rephrased in the sense you are looking more for "examples" and good demonstrations of the style and range of gospel/spiritual music. Interesting question, anyway.
    – Noldorin
    May 3 '11 at 22:51
  • 2
    If 3. is asked in a musicological spirit (representatives of different subgenres and local styles), it might fit the site better.
    – ogerard
    May 4 '11 at 11:44
  • 1
    See William Dargan, Lining Out the Word: Dr. Watts Hymn Singing in the Music of Black Americans Mar 9 '16 at 19:06

It began with the African slaves in USA in the early days of slavery.

Here are 2 articles that gives a brief overview of the history of the Negro Spirituals:



The following is an article that describes in short the origin of the Negro Spirituals, which was a way of communicating and raise good spirit between the slaves on the cotton fields. This was later adopted in the first black churches, and eventually evolved into a more sophisticated form style called Gospel. At the bottom of the article, there is also a recording sample by Mahalia Jackson of the song I’m On My Way To Canan:

Another article on the history of Negro Spirituals:
This also have links further to Gospel Music and also to how the Salvation Army and Moodey and Sankey made contrubutions to the development of Gospel music.

At last, but not least - The official site of Negro Spirituals and antique Gospel music, which will probably be a very good resource for you to find out a lot on the topic.


Here you will find a lot of history and also some important composers through the time. There are also several free mp3 music samples here, and a shop site (by Amazon) that lists some books and CD's that are related to this.


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