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In Emancipation of Slaves Through Music, author, educator and music mogul Mathew Knowles presents a keen examination of the liberating effects of music on an oppressed people. By taking readers on the journey of its secret use during slavery up through its eventual commercialization in the industry, he exposes the art form’s true power.
Between its informative pages, the book explores the uprooting of Africans via the transatlantic slave trade and the evolving effect on the people and their music. We follow the boats where communication went from a loud moan to chants that stirred rebellion, on into acts of escape where a song might just signal a time to flee.
The music of those stolen people became a tool and a medicinal balm that usually carried a message of hope through struggle. Chapters delve into songs behind rebellions and ‘sorrow songs,’ that lead us to deeper understandings about modern rap and even dancehall ‘chanting.’ Here, the reader takes a ride on the melodic voices and rhythms seeking freedom for more than physical bodies from chains. The survival of an enslaved people’s music through many tumultuous eras has allowed it to re-root into a musical culture like no other in history.