According to the music review in The Scranton tribune, 1899, with the growing of market of black slave songs and spiritual songs, some composers (non-black) started to produce these kinds of black music. However, the critique pointed out that many of these “new productions” were obvious “fake”, by failing to use “correct” words for pop black culture. Among these new productions, the song “Old Black Joe” was one of the few successful examples that true to African American’s life.
“Old Black Joe” is a song composed by by Stephen Forster (1826–1864) and it was published by Firth, Pond & Co. of New York in 1860. Foster wrote it as a synthesis of his ideals for stage and parlour ballads. The lyrics for the song was from first person recount, describing sadness of losing friends “in the cotton fields”, without any use of Black slangs or tones. The oldest version of notated music of “Old Black Joe” that held in Library of Congress showed a solo male voice line (marked as Joe) with chorus of SATB. Audiences can hear “call and response” in the music in a specific Jubilee Singer’s performing style.
However, the “real negro music”, described by the writer of Modern Negro Songs, should be in chorus setting rather than solo and should be sung by men rather than women. As the writer said, “It seems absurd for a female to sing the song of a Negro man, for it is well known that in every age of the Negro song the Negro has prided himself on his bass.” However, evidence from members of The Jubilee Singers and recordings of early work songs can prove he wrong.
Women sang a work Song:
Evening times-Republican. (Marshalltown, Iowa), 08 Feb. 1919. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85049554/1919-02-08/ed-1/seq-8/>
The Scranton tribune. (Scranton, Pa.), 16 Jan. 1899. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84026355/1899-01-16/ed-1/seq-5/>
“Foster, Stephen C..” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 24 Feb. 2015.<http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/10040>..