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Muslim Voices and African American Blues

Open and read Sylviane A. Diouf’s short essay discussing the West African Muslims who landed in this country as slaves (roughly 100,000) and how they were able to preserve their musical style that evolved over time as the blues.

According to Diouf, “Two American specificities can thus explain the emergence of the blues. Of all the countries in the Western hemisphere, the United States received the highest proportion of men and women from Senegal, Gambia, Mali and Guinea; and it is also the only place where drumming was forbidden.

So it is not by chance that the blues evolved only there. What makes this music so different from Caribbean and Afro-South American music is specifically the presence of Sahelian/Arabic/Islamic stylistic elements. They can be found in the instrument playing techniques, the melodies and the singing style. “

Once you have read Diouf’s short essay, listened to the two audio experiences she provides at the end of her essay. Then open and listen to the two links below.

Muslim Call to Prayer – Islam
Alan Lomax Recordings – Levee Camp Holler

Are you able to recognize rural Mississippi blues as one of the “most enduring and recognizable contributions of West African Muslims to American culture.” Why or why not?

For additional information see:

“Muslim Roots of the Blues/The Music of Famous American Blues Singers Reaches Back Through the South to the Culture of West Africa”