“God Moves in a Mysterious Way”

William T. Dargan

in Lining Out the Word

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 2006 | ISBN: 9780520234482
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520928923 | DOI:
“God Moves in a Mysterious Way”

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While the primary focus of this book is black Baptist ritual, its general significance extends to non-church forms and contexts that developed in the generations immediately following the ascendancy of Dr. Watts among black Baptists. The black music forms that emerged in the twentieth century—blues, gospel, rhythm and blues, and jazz—all drew upon the common body of ritual and musical elements which developed along with nineteenth-century congregational singing. Though reinterpreted in terms of their secular settings, signifying parallels and allusions to black worship permeate secular genres as well as the concert music of many composers, both white and black. This chapter discusses the interrelationships between these style traditions in terms of several classic blues performances. It then describes and critiques three seminal jazz tracks as embodiments of the ritual form and styles included in the continuum between lining out and ring shout: Billie Holiday's signature song, “Strange Fruit”; Charlie Parker's modern jazz improvisation on the blues, “Parker's Mood”; and the landmark collective improvisation led by Ornette Coleman, “Free Jazz.”

Keywords: Dr. Watts; black Baptists; lining out; ring shout; black music; blues; jazz; congregational singing; Billie Holiday; Charlie Parker

Chapter.  8980 words. 

Subjects: American Music

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