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06. Sade - Slave Song

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Slave Songs Transcend Sorrow

Large groups of slaves would work on these plantations utilizing the resources the Americas had to offer so that their plantation owners could remain profitable. Because of this permanent life of servitude, many slaves tried to escape while dying in the process. The importance of song and music was for so long overlooked by plantation owners. Slaves used songs to convey hidden codes, and to help boost morale of their fellow workers. This episode will discuss the importance these songs had using specific examples.

Initially, slaves used song and music to boost the overall happiness of the people they worked with. During times of difficult labor, slaves would break out in a song to pass the time, and lift their spirits.


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Slaves would often sing songs that praised the lord, or asked the lord for help and guidance. My primary source is a common slave song that was sung to aquire hope, and asks for assistance on their journey.

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Slave Work Songs : The Colonial Williamsburg Official History & Citizenship Site

All along this tejus journeys, I want Jesus to walk with me. Most slaves were devout Christians not only to give them hope and faith, but to also please the white men into possibly shortening their time as a slave. These songs were constantly heard in groups and were crucial to getting through the day. Singing these songs helped pass the time and lift the spirits of distraught workers.

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Additionally, slaves actually put codes into songs to relay secret messages among their slave community. Today, these songs are well known because of the amount of specific information coded within its lyrics. The title of a very popular slave song, Wade in the water , specifically explains to runaways how to escape from bloodhounds. Furthermore, the song contains a reference to Jordan and a promise land.