African Americans' historical roots are encapsulated in the lyrics, melodies, and rhythms of their music. In the 18th and 19th centuries, African slaves, longing for emancipation, expressed their hopes and dreams through spirituals. Inspired by African civilization and culture, as well as religion, art, literature, and social issues, this influential, joyous, tragic, uplifting, challenging, and enduring music evolved into many diverse genres, including jazz, blues, rock and roll, soul, swing, and hip hop. Providing a lyrical history of our nation, this groundbreaking encyclopedia, the first of its kind, showcases all facets of African American music including folk, religious, concert and popular styles.
Over 500 in-depth entries by more than 100 scholars on a vast range of topics such as genres, styles, individuals, groups, and collectives as well as historical topics such as music of the Harlem Renaissance, the Black Arts Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, and numerous others. Offering balanced representation of key individuals, groups, and ensembles associated with diverse religious beliefs, political affiliations, and other perspectives not usually approached, this indispensable reference illuminates the profound role that African American music has played in American cultural history.