"[The spiritual] became the entrance, the open door, into . . .a whole new world of experience. The slaves could not experience the normal world. . .They were whipped, and they had
chains, and they found the secret door to take them into that world where the
tears are wiped away.
. . .One of the things I think about when I think about this body of music, I realize that it was the foundation for most other American music. And this music has changed the face of music
in the 20th century. And the story behind the creation of the spiritual is really--it's a miraculous story. Normally, when you hear the story of African American[music] in a documentary somewhere, they go back to Ella Fitzgerald or Louis Armstrong. And I say, `Well, that's great. But if you reallywant to know the story behind the story, find out who Louis' grandmother wasand wha t she was singing. What were the songs he learned when he was a baby, and what were the messages of those songs?'
And the thing that we find is that in the midst of all the most horrible pain, some of these powerful individuals, they transcend with shining lives. They were able to rise up above. I mean, they were able to be loving and forgiving in the midst of it all. . .The interesting
thing, you don't find mean-spirited sentiments in the spirituals."
--artist, musician and educator Joe Carter, to Speaking of Faith's Krista Tippett. The broadcast featuring Joe Carter will re-air this week, or you can listen to it by clicking the link.