Work Songs - Spirituals - Gospel
When slaves were captured and brought to the United States of America, they were given menial labor.  Drums were banned for fear slaves would use them for communication during rebellions.  Slaves then relied on their vocal chords to make music.  African Americans are a resourceful people and started singing Spirituals, also known as work songs, while breaking their backs in southern cotton fields.  It is a fact that Spirituals are a musical form that is indigenous and specific to the highs, lows and religious experiences in the United States for Africans transported from Africa.  The first Spiritual recording was by the Fisk Jubilee Singers in 1909.  One very famous song from this era is Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.  Religion and Spirituals found their way into the hearts, minds and souls of African Americans in the Deep South.  They were trying to find their way to the freedom land up north and were thinking about stealing way on the Underground Railroad.  One of the best known spiritualists ever is the Queen of Gospel, Mahalia Jackson.  Work songs were the foundation of what would eventually become the Blues.  Other gospel notables include James Cleveland and The Winans Family.
 
The Fisk Jubilee Singers was a nine member ensemble organized at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee as a way to raise funds for the fledgling college which was the first to offer a liberal arts education to Blacks.
 
Mahalia Jackson, known as the "Queen of Gospel Music," was a gospel singer, widely regarded as the best in the history of the genre. With her powerful, distinct voice, Mahalia Jackson became one of the most influential gospel singers in the world. She recorded about 35 albums during her career, and her 45 rpm records included a dozen "golds" - million-sellers
 

The Reverend Dr. James Cleveland was a gospel singer, arranger, composer and, most significantly, the driving force behind the creation of the modern gospel sound, bringing the stylistic daring of hard gospel and jazz and pop music influences to arrangements for mass choirs.  The style he pioneered — large disciplined organizations who used complex arrangements and unusual time signatures to turn their massive vocal power to achieve the propulsive rhythms, intricate harmonies and individual virtuosity of the greatest groups of gospel's Golden Age — was  the wellspring for the mass choirs of that era.

 

The Winans Family is a family of gospel music artists from Detroit, Michigan.  Revered as the "First Family of Gospel", this multi-Grammy, Dove and Stellar award-winning family have more directly influenced the Gospel music industry than possibly any other artist or group in history.  The Winans family includes David and Delores (Pops & Mom), David Jr, Ronald, Carvin,Marvin, Michael, daniel, Benjamin (BeBe), Priscilla (CeCe), Angelique, and Deborah.