BETWEEN the15th and 19th centuries the Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, French, Belgian and British used African slaves as a major part of their labour force. The slaves were vital to the economic development of these countries and were shipped to their overseas territories or colonies in the ‘New World’ of the Caribbean and the Americas.
The African slaves brought aspects of their culture with them to the New World. They told stories, danced, sang and kept alive the rhythms of their homeland.
When Western religions such as Christianity were imposed upon the slaves these rhythms would find their way into hymns from Europe. This meeting of African and European musical cultures in the New World has had a major effect on the development of modern music.
Firstly it gave rise to black church songs or ‘Negro spirituals’. This form of music later evolved into gospel, blues, jazz, Rhythm & Blues, rock & roll and soul. All of these genres of music have a connection to Africa.
What’s more today’s African-American and Black British artists such as Pharoah Sanders and Gary Crosby’s Nu Troop celebrate their African heritage through their music.