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> American Gospel Music, Possible Gaelic Roots?
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WizardofOwls 
Posted: 26-Jan-2005, 10:46 PM
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Here is a very interesting article I found at:

Http://soundingcirlce/newslog2.php/_show_a...0195_000467.htm

Let me know what you think about it!

Gospel truth: Hebrides invented church spirituals
20 Sep 2003 @ 14:39, by Raymond Powers

Gospel truth: Hebrides invented church spirituals
By Paul Kelbie, Scotland Correspondent
20 September 2003

A study into the roots of gospel music by an American professor has lead the accomplished musician, who has played with Duke Ellington and Dizzy Gillespie, to conclude that the "good news" music sung in black American churches originated from Scotland, not Africa.

Professor Willie Ruff, of Yale University, said the roots of the music derived from evangelical spirituals and blues and jazz, had more to do with the crofters of the Outer Hebrides than slaves on US plantations.

For years the accepted wisdom has been that gospel music was born during the period of slavery in the Deep South. But Professor Ruff conceded that his findings have startled a number of elders in black churches.

"They have always assumed that this form of worship came from Africa," Professor Ruff, an Afro-American professor of music, said. "Black Americans have lived under a misconception. Our cultural roots are more Afro-Gaelic than Afro-American. Just look at the Harlem telephone book, it's more like Edinburgh or the book for the North Uists.

"There is a notion that when African slaves arrived in America they came down the gangplanks of slave ships singing gospel music - that's just not true. What I'm talking about here pre-dates all other congregational singing by blacks in America."

Traditional psalm singing, or "precenting the line" as it is correctly known, in which the psalms are called out and the congregation sings a response, was the earliest form of congregational singing adopted by Africans in America. Even today, psalm singing and gospel music are the backbone of black churchgoers in the US, with CD sales alone worth half a billion dollars last year.

But Professor Ruff, 71, a Baptist from Alabama, said: "I, like everyone else, assumed it was unique to black congregations in the United States, having grown out of slavery, but I began to wonder if it was performed by white congregations in the same way," he said.

He began researching at the Sterling library at Yale, one of the world's greatest collections of books and papers, where he found records of how Highlanders settled in North Carolina in the 1700s.

"Scottish emigrants from the Highlands, and the Gaelic speaking Hebrides especially, arrived in parts of North Carolina in huge numbers and for many years during the slavery period black Africans, owned by Scottish emigrants, spoke only the Gaelic language. I found, in a North Carolina newspaper dated about 1740, an advertisement offering a generous reward for the capture and return of a runaway African slave who is described as being easy to identify because he only speaks Gaelic. There is no doubt the great influx of Scots Presbyterians into the Carolinas introduced the African slaves to Christianity and their way of worship," he said.

But it wasn't until Professor Ruff travelled to Scotland that he became convinced of the similarities after hearing psalm singing in Gaelic. "I was struck by the similarity, the pathos, the emotion, the cries of suffering and the deep, deep belief in a brighter, promising hereafter.

"It makes sense that as we got our names from the slave masters, we carried the slave owners blood, their religion and their customs, that we should have adopted and adapted their music. There are more descendants of Highland Scots living in America than there are in the Highlands - and a great many of them are black.

"I have been to Africa many times in search of my cultural identity, but it was in the Highlands that I found the cultural roots of black America."

Jamie Reid-Baxter, a history research fellow at Glasgow University and a psalm expert, said: "The Scottish slave-owners would definitely have brought that style of singing with them and the slaves would have heard it. Both these forms of music are a way of expressing religious ecstasy."




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Sln agus beannachd,
Allen R. Alderman

'S i Alba tr mo chridhe. 'S i Gidhlig cnan m' anama.
Scotland is the land of my heart. Gaelic is the language of my soul.
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Aaediwen 
Posted: 27-Jan-2005, 01:06 PM
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I'm not surprised. I've known as a fact that a lot of the gospel music is Celtic in origin. Don't need a doctorate to know that. After all, that's what people were singing when they came over and it makes sense that's what they'd use in worship. Most gospel I'm familiar with is of a mountain or bluegrass style, which carries direct blood lineage to the isles, indeed about as pure as you'll find in this country. The black community is about all the Celtic music would have mixed with too much to form these new styles, and it also makes sense for various groups to sing in their own style. So as for that perticular way of singing them, it's not a huge hop either way. But the songs are celtic in origin.


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Shamalama 
Posted: 28-Jan-2005, 11:56 AM
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WizardofOwls' corrected link:
http://soundingcircle.com/newslog2.php/__s...0195-000467.htm

Like Aaediwen said, the old gospel, spiritual, and psalm singing came over from Scotland. It's absolutely beautiful.


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WizardofOwls 
Posted: 28-Jan-2005, 07:31 PM
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Oops! Did I provide a faulty link? I am so sorry! Thanks for correcting it Shamalama! Anyway, I am glad you guys found the article interesting! I thought so too!
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Haldur 
Posted: 01-Feb-2005, 08:44 PM
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I have to agree with all of this...especially after seeing the movie "Songcatcher" over the weekend. And it's truly no surprise. The Scots (and all other cultures, for that matter) brought over many of their ballads, hymns, spirituals, and work songs as I'm sure the Africans/Carribeans brought from their lands during the great slave movements.

This is a very fascinating, and important, piece of knowledge for its remarkable to think of how so many have changed these songs to fit their lifestyle and local vernacular. Language plays so much a part in all of this, its not even funny...in fact, I'm planning on posting a thread in the Celtic Music forum regarding the Scots/Appalachian music and some research I'm currently undergoing both music and textwise!


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