Scholar Looks for Connections Between Blues and Islamic Call to Prayer

August 17, 2004

Source: The San Francisco Chronicle

On August 17, 2004 The San Francisco Chronicle reported that, "Upward of 30 percent of the African slaves in the United States were Muslim, and an untold number of them spoke and wrote Arabic, historians say now... These slaves' practices eventually evolved -- decades and decades later, parallel with different singing traditions from Africa -- into the shouts and hollers that begat blues music, historians believe... [S]lave music featured elements of an Arabic-Islamic song style that had been imprinted by centuries of Islam's presence in West Africa, says Gerhard Kubik, an ethnomusicology professor at the University of Mainz in Germany who has written the most comprehensive book on Africa's connection to blues music ('Africa and the Blues'). Kubik believes that many of today's blues singers unconsciously echo these Arabic-Islamic patterns in their music."