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The Books of American Negro Spirituals, by James Weldon Johnson and J. Rosamond Johnson (1925)

First published in 1925, this book is still considered a classic. The Johnsons provide the words and music for more than 100 spirituals, as well as contextual information to assist their interpretation.

Slave Spirituals and the Jubilee Singers, by Michael L. Cooper (2001)

This book for younger readers explores both the development of spirituals within slave communities and the role of the Fisk Jubilee Singers in introducing white audiences to this “indigenous” American genre.

The Sounds of Slavery: Discovering African American History through Songs, Sermons, and Speech, by Shane White, Graham White (2006)

This ambitious book attempts to reconstruct the sounds of slave society. Spirituals, work songs, prayers, and even the moans of slaves being whipped are reconstructed through the use of narratives and recordings made in the 1930s. An accompanying CD brings these sounds off of the written page.

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