Somebody’s Calling My Name – Review

Walker provides a glimpse into the characteristics and importance of music to African Americans. It is her contention that music, preaching, and praying are all fundamentals to helping the African American survive in this land. There are a few very helpful and interesting assertions. First on page 25 and 26 she implies that liberation requires spirited music which in some ways is subversive to the dominant cultural idea of more “restrained” worship. This would imply that those churches that do not engage in spirited worship practices might be less inclined to fight for liberation.

Music as Glue to Hold African Americans Together

Another important thought from the book is that music became the glue that held together all these different African groups who were forced to be together. This glue even held when they took the drum from us and we simply substituted hand claps or foot stomps. (Page 29) Another interesting thought is the idea that the preaching tradition grew out of the singing tradition which can account for the importance of “musical” elements like rhythm and tone in Black preaching.

There are also helpful parts like the purpose of the spiritual on page 47 where she lists 7 including the subversive use of the spirituals to help people make use of the Underground Railroad.

Finally as a preacher, the characteristics of the spiritual on pages 51-63 are especially interesting for they also seem to be characteristics of black preaching. These are: Deep Biblicism, eternality of the message, rhythm, improvisation, double or coded meaning, repetition, and unique imagery. Walker provides a historic background that helps preachers understand where these characteristics came from in the African American preaching tradition.

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Sherman Haywood Cox II

Sherman Haywood Cox II is the director of Soul Preaching. He holds the M.Div with an emphasis in Homiletics and a M.S. in Computer Science.

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