James Cone paper: The Spirituals and the Blues

The selected choice of the material to be analyzed entails Alvin Ailey’s American Dance Theater (2002-03) performance of the revelations “Rocka my soul in the bosom of Abraham”. De Alvin Ailey as the coreografia illustrates the strength and significance of music in the Black spirituals and beliefs systems. The music is a key component of the negro race that is used as a source of strength, courage, perseverance, and liberation in the face of oppression, suffering, and pain. The analysis of the song is made in conjunction with James Cone’s arguments as presented in the Spirituals and the Blues book. These are fundamental features that emphasize on the significance and role of music in the Black-Americans life. The profound impact to serve as a source of inspiration and sense of purpose to continue living and persevering to give purpose to their lives.

James Cone’s Arguments that Best Resonate with the Song

In section one, Cones extensively analyzes the debate about Black music and its role in their lives. Cone argues that “the musical capacity of the negro race [had] been recognized for many years” (Cone, 10). The art and the thought in the music cannot be separated rather serve as a common component used in the expression of the Black live essence affirming their essential humanity in the face of oppression. The use of music is critical to bring the connections between the cultural experiences and reflection of the Black spirituals in a world of suffering, pain, and anguish.

Cone analyzes the souls of the Black folk as a resilient feature that is “so rich in feeling and observation that it defies classification” that is given of the lowest form of human kind (Cone, 11). Cone states that Dubois as an interpreter of the spirituals was happy to place his weight on the distinctive character of the slave songs. This led to DuBois characterization of the slave music as the “sole American music” that posit the cultural history of the Black folks striving for humanity in a society full of oppression, discrimination, and racial hatred and animosity (Cone, 15). The slave songs are attributed to most beautiful form of expression of human experience in the subjugation of unending life’s suffering.

Analysis of the Song

Movement, Costume, and Staging. The movement arranged in pairs of man and women run fast and inter-close each other. In a total of 18 individuals (9 men and 9 women) the interchanges and interlocks of their connections illustrates the expression of their feelings and appreciation of life. The costume is designed to resemble the slavery dressing mode and the hats used by women marks the epitome of slavery presentation. The staging is dimly lit where the performance is taking place but the sides and background is in total darkness (Cone, 15). This is a representation of dark history that the Black folks have endured for a long history in American. The Black Americans despite the suffering, pain, and oppression that characterized their day-to-day life also was filled with the hope for a better tomorrow. The song resembles and resonates the desire to live a better life filled with joy, happiness, and soul’s satisfaction.

The “rocka my soul in the bosom of Abraham” song uses the jazz beats that are soothing and compelling to illustrate a calm and resilient mind. This is an illustration of the hopefulness for a better future despite the hardships of the present day. This is the characteristic of the daily lives in which the Black folks experienced and lived. However, the spirit of the Black American’s soul remains bright and focused on the realization of a bright future. The present does not deter the hope for the future and remains to be the guiding light in the darkness. The song shows the resilience, joy, and hope the Black soul possesses amidst the oppression and suffering in their lives. This presents the message in which the song advances and plays in the lives of people. Thus, it is imperative to utilize music as a source of soothing of the soul, calmness, and resilience in their lives.


In conclusion, Cone’s arguments and their relation to the song brings the significance of music to people’s lives. The spirituals illustrate the meaning of God as a liberator of the soul amidst Black suffering, pain, oppression, and racist hatred. The “rocka my soul in the bosom of Abraham” shows the power of music in Black survival. The profound resilience and determination to endure pain and suffering does not deter people from striving for a better future. This connotes the transcendence of the present and the future in people’s lives. The value of music in the Black race people is fundamental and immense to give hope and look forward to the future. Thus, Cone’s analysis of the spirituals and the blues indicate the relations between Black folks, their live experiences, music, and God in their pursuant of a better lie.

Works Cited

Cone, James H. The spirituals and the blues. Orbis Books, 1991. ISBN 0-88344-747-9.

LiceuOperaBarcelona. Rocka My Soul: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (2002-03). 2010, Jan 11. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWBel7J4Izs

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