Wade in the Water: The Wisdom of the Spirituals - Revised Edition
By: Arthur C. Jones
“Once in a while a book comes along that literally sings. . . . Such is Wade in the Water. Arthur Jones has done us all a service by creating the very fiber of African-American culture.”—Andrew Billingsley, author, Climbing Jacob’s Ladder
“As we look for succor in today’s troubled world, Arthur Jones’s revised edition of Wade in the Water inspires us to find our way back to the timeless African American songs called the ‘spirituals’ and to the beauty of the voices and words that afforded self-worth despite enslavement, resistance despite oppression, and the sacred despite the profane.”—Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Harvard University
“Arthur Jones’ Wade in the Water is unique in that it demonstrates black psychological integrity and black agency, as expressed before and after slavery. . . . In a sense, this text offers new insight to Maya Angelou’s expression: ‘I know why the caged bird sings.’” —William E. Cross, Jr., author, Shades of Black
“Wade in the Water is widely considered one of the best treatments of the influential African American sacred song tradition variously known as the ‘Sorrow Songs,’ ‘Negro Spirituals,’ or simply ‘Spirituals.’. . . In powerfully written page after page, Arthur Jones eloquently illustrates that the Spirituals are more about liberty instead of slavery.”—Reiland Rabaka, author, Civil Rights Music and Black Power Music!
Wade in the Water celebrates the spirituals both as art form and as unique and powerful cultural expression. Exploring the African roots of the spirituals, Jones explores the way the songs conceal a language of freedom and resistance, and the way that their spiritual consolation reinforces community solidarity. First published in 1993, this new edition traces the rediscovery and transmission of this tradition and its meaning for a new generation and new challenges.
Arthur C. Jones, a clinical psychologist, is Professor Emeritus of Music, Culture and Psychology, University of Denver. In the early 1990s, his expertise in African American and multicultural mental health and spirituality merged with a serendipitous revival of his childhood love of singing, leading to sustained efforts to help preserve and revitalize the music and wise teachings of the African American spirituals tradition. He is the founder of the award-winning Spirituals Project, which is now an official program of the University of Denver Lamont School of Music.
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