The African American Music Introduction Music is one of the many cultural aspects that the African Americans greatly value. They even consider it as part of their lives. They have been using it to express their identity and sentiments. The African American music is actually a combination of the respective rhythm and tunes of the different African ethnic groups brought in America…
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The Sharing of Culture The exposure of one African ethnic group to the other had resulted to the sharing of cultures and traditions. As claimed by Michael Angelo Gomez, during the slavery period in America, the Africans coming from different cultural backgrounds had assembled themselves to form a single society of African Americans (88). It is contended that their cultural formation was not triggered by any form of racial discrimination but by the realization that they are different from the other people within the American society. What made them different is not just the color of their skin but their social status. So as to have a unified foundation for the expression of their common interest, the different ethnic groups decided to fuse their various traditions. It is in this sense that the Africans appreciated the advantages of creating a community. Nonetheless, it is worthy to emphasize that the fusion of the different beliefs and practices had not been easy for the different ethnic groups. Actually, the traditional people in Africa did not view the members of the other ethnic groups as belonging to their own (Freeman 25). They even had the propensity of seeing their ethnic group as more influential than the others. This suggests that during the process of cultural integration, the various African ethnic groups were struggling to make their beliefs and practices part of the new identity. Nevertheless, due to their slavery experience, these ethnic groups could have considered to be submissive to whatever way that could serve the best interest of all the Africans in America. The African American Music The formation of African-American music is one of the products of the cultural integration that the different ethnic groups had experienced and embraced during the slave era in America. After the abolition of slave trade in America, there had been many African-American singers and songwriters who became part of the American entertainment and music industry. As members of the African-American community, the African-American music artists are expected to express their cultural identity in their musical compositions and even in their everyday dealing. Their way of expressing the cultural identity of African-Americans has caught the public’s attention. The African-American music artists living in America have been subjected to a very controversial question, that is, whether they view themselves primarily as individuals of African descent who happened to be in the American soil or primarily as Americans who happened to be of African descent. A Discussion of the Distinction It is claimed that the new generation of African-Americans could consider themselves belonging to the second option. In a way, since they have been part of modern America, they have the tendency to behave in the American way. This connotes that for them, their American identity weighs more than their African ancestry. Their ancestral root has become a second or subsidiary identity. Nonetheless, they still recognize the fact that they have a unique cultural origin. It is in this sense that they have the tendency to reshape and improvise a musical composition or simply “to blackenize” it, giving it an African-American touch (Maynard-Reid 71). Examples of African-American singers born during the post-slavery era are Michael Jackson and
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