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A Theology for the Blues

A Theology for the Blues Jon Michael Spencer Toward a Black Blues Theology Blues is an expression of black theology. The theological content in blues songs and in the oral beliefs of bluespeople was organic to the evolution of this genre of music in the post-civil war South. Because those who lived blueslife "behind the mule" and preached blues theology from behind their guitars were unable to (or did not care to) articulate their theology in the canons of the Enlightenment language, their religion was relegated to "invisibility." Akin to those who erroneously identified spirituals as merely otherworldly, recording agents and casual observers were unable to discern that blues was sacred music. It was not until the post-civil rights era that blues was taken somewhat seriously by journalists, and that singers were interviewed about blues belief and the longstanding church-blues dialectic. As a select few schol­ ars gleaned filaments of theological thought from this journalistic data, headway was gained toward the documentation of black blues theology. James Cone was the first theologian to clearly perceive that black theology could not possibly make an adequate statement without reflecting critically upon the theological content in the blues. In his The Spirituals and the Blues (1972), he http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Black Sacred Music Duke University Press

A Theology for the Blues

Black Sacred Music , Volume 2 (1) – Mar 1, 1988

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Copyright
© Copyright 1988 JBSM/Jon Michael Spencer
ISSN
1043-9455
eISSN
2640-9879
DOI
10.1215/10439455-2.1.1
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Jon Michael Spencer Toward a Black Blues Theology Blues is an expression of black theology. The theological content in blues songs and in the oral beliefs of bluespeople was organic to the evolution of this genre of music in the post-civil war South. Because those who lived blueslife "behind the mule" and preached blues theology from behind their guitars were unable to (or did not care to) articulate their theology in the canons of the Enlightenment language, their religion was relegated to "invisibility." Akin to those who erroneously identified spirituals as merely otherworldly, recording agents and casual observers were unable to discern that blues was sacred music. It was not until the post-civil rights era that blues was taken somewhat seriously by journalists, and that singers were interviewed about blues belief and the longstanding church-blues dialectic. As a select few schol­ ars gleaned filaments of theological thought from this journalistic data, headway was gained toward the documentation of black blues theology. James Cone was the first theologian to clearly perceive that black theology could not possibly make an adequate statement without reflecting critically upon the theological content in the blues. In his The Spirituals and the Blues (1972), he

Journal

Black Sacred MusicDuke University Press

Published: Mar 1, 1988

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