83. Songs of the People: Paul Robeson and the Negro Spiritual

Posted on 19 September 2021

The career of the multi-talented activist and performer Paul Robeson, and the place of the Negro spiritual in the Harlem Renaissance.

Further Reading

• W.E.B. Du Bois, Souls of Black Folk (Oxford: 2007), ch.14: “The Sorrow Songs”

• Z.N. Hurston, “Spirituals and Neo-Spirituals, in N. Cunard (ed.), Negro Anthropology (London: 1934), 359-61; reprinted in Z.N. Hurston, Folklore, Memoirs, and Other Writings (New York: 1995).

• J.W. Johnson, The Book of American Negro Spirituals (New York: 1925).

• P. Robeson Here I Stand (Boston: 1958).


• M. Duberman, Paul Robeson (New York: 1988).

• G. Horne, Paul Robeson: the Artist as Revolutionary (London: 2016).

• T. Lutz, “Claude McKay: Music, Sexuality, and Literary Cosmopolitanism,” in S.A. Simawe (ed.), Black Orpheus: Music in African American Fiction from the Harlem Renaissance to Tony Morrison (New York: 2000), 41-64.

• G. Olwage, “‘Warbling Wood-Notes Wild’: Nature, Art, and Race in Paul Robeson's ‘Early Singing,’” Musical Quarterly 98 (2015), 263-302.

• M.A. Rhodes, “Placing Paul Robeson in History: Understanding His Philosophical Framework,” Journal of Black Studies 47 (2016), 235-57.

• J. Stewart, Paul Robeson: Artist and Citizen (New Brunswick: 1998).

• L.R. Swindall, Paul Robeson: a Life of Activism and Art (Lanham: 2013).

• C. Wright, Robeson: Labor’s Forgotten Champion (Detroit: 1975).


Harold Augenbraum 28 September 2021

I just caught up with the African series so with the fullness of 83 podcasts behind me I want to say that this series should be "required listening" for every high school student in the United States and that the combined bibliography should make up a proposed reading list for every university student.

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