Journal: Music and the Harlem Renaissance

In the learning unit for this module, the Harlem Renaissance was described not only as a literary movement but as an artistic movement included the fine arts and music. In terms of the it most longstanding cultural legacy, the music of the Harlem Renaissance has had perhaps the most significant influence on American popular culture. The 1920s was also known as the Jazz Age, and Influential musical artists such as Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, and Duke Ellington, to name only a few, became popular among white audiences. Meanwhile, African American composers such as Florence Beatrice Price and William Grant Still made important contributions to the world of classical music. All of these artists drew upon the rich musical tradition of spirituals, work songs, and gospel music in order to create a unique form modern American music.
In this journal entry, you will respond to two poems – one by by poet James Weldon Johnson and another of your chosing. Along with his brother J. Rosamond Johnson, he compiled the lyrics for over a hundred traditional spirituals in two volumes – The Book of American Negro Spirituals (1925) and The Second Book of Negro Spirituals. Johnson’s poetry was heavily by the spiritual tradition. After reading his poem “O Black and Unknown Bards” (see the Module 5 Readings), search the internet for examples of African American spirituals, focusing on their lyrical as well as their musical content. Next compose a journal entry in which you describe the relationship between Johnson’s poem and one spiritual of your choosing. Does Johnson borrow lines, images, or themes from specific spirituals? Does Johnson address a certain theme or idea in his poetry that is also reflected in the spiritual you’ve chosen?
Include hyperlinks to relevant texts, videos, or images in addition to your written text. Also consider embedding images or videos in your entry to make it more interactive.

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