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Spirituals and the Birth of a Black Entertainment Industry$
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Sandra Jean Graham

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780252041631

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252041631.001.0001

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Lessons and Legacies

Lessons and Legacies

(p.249) Conclusion Lessons and Legacies
Spirituals and the Birth of a Black Entertainment Industry

Sandra Jean Graham

University of Illinois Press

The earliest literary recognitions of black music set up an artificial dichotomy between “white” and “black” traditions, suggesting for each of these two categories an essence and a stability that didn’t exist. Concert spirituals, commercial spirituals, and indeed the entire black entertainment industry of the nineteenth century were shaped by a common dynamic. Music, dance, comedy, performance practice, and other expressive strategies that had emerged among black Americans—and that were closely bound up with their social and religious lives—were made to conform to the preferences and expectations of white audiences. This conclusion looks at why the spiritual became the common denominator among the different genres in this new entertainment industry, as well as the shift to black managers, arrangers, impresarios, and the role of women entertainers at this time.

Keywords:   Spirituals, blackface minstrelsy, early black entertainment, Fisk Jubilee Singers, jubilee singers, Donavin’s Original Tennesseans (jubilee singers), Nashville Students (jubilee singers), Uncle Tom’s Cabin onstage (postwar), environmental spectacles featuring plantation themes, black instrumentalists, Hyers Sisters, Stewart-Wilberforce Concert Company, James O. Crosswhite, Robert Hamilton (Hampton Student singer), Charles “Barney” Hicks, Frederick Loudin, Georgie Allen, payment of black jubilee entertainers, commercial spirituals, white singers of jubilee songs, canon formation of spirituals, spirituals and folklore research, Hampton Folk-Lore Society, preservation of spirituals

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