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The Spirituals and the Blues

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  99 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
Cone explores two classic aspects of African-American culture--the spirituals and the blues. He tells the captivating story of how slaves and the children of slaves used this music to affirm their essential humanity in the face of oppression. The blues are shown to be a "this-worldly" expression of cultural and political rebellion. The spirituals tell about the "attempt to ...more
Paperback, 141 pages
Published October 1st 1992 by Orbis Books
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Jason Gordon
Sep 06, 2013 Jason Gordon rated it really liked it
I have to say that this book is wonderfully written. Dr. Cone is quite at home talking about Christianity in the African American community. Christianity in the African American community shares the same iconography as the Christianity of whites, but the iconography in the former community is interpreted differently in so far as these icons are imbued with African traditions. Dr. Cone uses the spirituals to provide a cogent reading/interpretation of African American/Black Christianity and there ...more
Theon Hill
Jun 18, 2015 Theon Hill rated it really liked it
Cone offers an excellent analysis of the theological, historical, and social roots of spirituals and the blues. While I disagree with certain tenets of Cone's liberation theology, his perspective gives him keen insight into the vital role that these forms of music played in African American cultural life as people of color have sought to maintain their humanity against the backdrop of America's vicious legacy of White Supremacy.
Izaiah Dawkins
Oct 08, 2015 Izaiah Dawkins rated it it was amazing
Dr.Cone is a master at making a clear connection between pain and music. If you understand that the best music,that transcends time ,comes from pain. Loved the book.
May 02, 2016 Leena rated it really liked it
Extremely eye-opening concerning the history and theology behind the music of black slaves and blacks living through segregation and beyond. I will experience this music with new open eyes and heart. Realized I've sung many a slave spiritual as a white child and adult in my church experience and the meaning for me has been much different than the intended purpose of those who originally created and sang them.
Sooho Lee
Jan 31, 2016 Sooho Lee rated it it was amazing
Easily one of the most beautiful theological works that analyzes the black spirit in and through the spirituals and the blues. These musical outlets are more than ascetic get-aways under oppressive regimes, rather they embody the rhythmic sways and suaves of black hope and grit. Grounded in real history, the spirituals and the blues expose, reject, and recapitulate supremacists' definition of black nothingness/nobodiness into black somebodiness. For blacks, music is their authoritative medium fo ...more
May 02, 2016 Lisa rated it liked it
Less exciting than Cone's other pieces. Maybe I need to be better versed in Christian musical traditions. The blues also felt like a disjointed addition at the end.
1972 interpretation of black/slave theology and the blues as expressions of total [slave] black experience. Slightly inconsistent, in my opinion, but thoughtful.
Charles Williams
Oct 24, 2014 Charles Williams rated it it was amazing
Great book on how the old Negro Spirituals messages was analogous to major themes in the Blues.
Aug 07, 2014 Wesley rated it really liked it
This was definitely my favorite Cone book for two reasons.

First, I think he elaborates more on what eschatological hope means in his theology. It's a topic that comes up frequently in his writing and it was good to hear some elaboration.

Second, Cone virtually articulates certain aspects of Christus Victor atonement theory VERY clearly. For this reason, I find his theology a bit more tenable because it can be connected to Orthodox Christianity (Christus Victor being the main atonement theory unti
Joe T.
Dec 30, 2014 Joe T. rated it it was amazing
This was a great book. I would like to see similar treatment given to rap music.
Jun 28, 2011 Sean-david rated it really liked it
While I am not in agreement with liberation theology as a systematic theology, Cone offers some excellent, important, and truthful observations about the theolgy preached through the spirituals. Additionally, Cone makes some important obsetrvatins about the blues and the blues musician/singer being a prophetic voice of the community in the truth telling senseof the word.
Sandy H
Nov 03, 2015 Sandy H rated it liked it
Shelves: dmin
Read for a class. I really liked the theory and enjoyed reading it for awhile, but eventually it began to feel as if the book would have made a better article. By halfway through, I felt like I'd gotten the majority of the argument and much felt redundant after that. Still, important work and very interesting.
Oct 03, 2008 Charles rated it really liked it
A nice discourse on the roots of the spirituals and the blues. More of a theological discourse. Art as an expression of suffering... yet also a healing within that suffering. Paradoxical... Cone does a nice job of explaining it.
Aug 14, 2013 Michael rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music
"The power of song in the struggle for black survival--that is what the spirituals and blues are about."

One of the best books on the subject of the spirituals and the blues and their relation to the soul. Highly recommended.
Mar 27, 2013 Raully rated it it was ok
Thought-provoking, but this examination is little more than the tip of an iceburg.
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James Hal Cone is an advocate of Black liberation theology, a theology grounded in the experience of African Americans, and related to other Christian liberation theologies. In 1969, his book Black Theology and Black Power provided a new way to articulate the distinctiveness of theology in the black Church. James Cone’s work was influential and political from the time of his first publication, and ...more
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