Nothing but Love in God’s Water: Volume 1: Black Sacred Music from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement
The first of two volumes chronicling the history and role of music in the African American experience, Nothing but Love in God’s Water explores how songs and singers helped African Americans challenge and overcome slavery, subjugation, and suppression. From the spirituals of southern fields and the ringing chords of black gospel to the protest songs that changed the landscape of labor and the cadences sung before dogs and water cannons in Birmingham, sacred song has stood center stage in the African American drama. Myriad interviews, one-of-a-kind sources, and rare or lost recordings are used to examine this enormously persuasive facet of the movement. Nothing but Love in God’s Water explains the historical significance of song and helps us understand how music enabled the civil rights movement to challenge the most powerful nation on the planet.
Volume 2 of Nothing but Love in God's Water is also available on Fulcrum.
The Fisk Jubilee Singers were initially reluctant to turn to spirituals, but their popularity soared in the United States and Europe once they did. Their success spawned an entire genre of sacred part-singing and numerous similar groups.
Paul Robeson was one of many artists to have recorded “John Brown’s Body.” The song influenced many to convert to the antislavery cause. The Fisk Jubilee Singers helped perpetuate the song’s popularity after the Civil War.
Today, Blind Willie Johnson is the best-known songster, but he has a recorded legacy of only 30 songs. Despite the scarcity of his recordings and the fact that virtually nothing is known about him, his singing and slide-guitar playing are deeply influential on modern musicians.
The Crisis, the journal of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In July 1933, The Crisis reported that the Glee Club of Hampton Institute entertained guests at the White House, including the former premier of France. Also that summer, the Morehouse College Glee Club performed spirituals for the President.