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  1. Music latest
  2. Swing Low Sweet Chariot
  3. Swing Low Sweet Chariot: The slave song appropriated by English rugby

Housed at: Internet Archive. Download: MP3. John W. Sarah gave birth to Ella on a Tennessee plantation in When she learned that her master intended to sell her to another plantation, thus separating her permanently from Ella, she resolutely set out for the Cumberland River, intent on drowning both herself and her daughter. Ella did indeed perform before royalty. She eventually reunited with her mother and brought her to live with her in Nashville. Featured here is the first known recording of the song performed in December for Victor Studios by the Fisk University Jubilee Quartet pictured above , a male foursome carrying on the legacy of the original Fisk Jubilee Singers of the s.

The recording popularised the song hugely, helping it become one of the best known African American spirituals. Over the last century composers have arranged it for choral ensembles, concert soloists, jazz bands, concert bands, dance bands, and symphony orchestras, and it has been recorded countless times by popular musicians, from Paul Robeson to Johnny Cash, from Fats Waller to Eric Clapton. Privacy Policy More info.


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In this novelty recording by the Norwegian actor Henry Klauser, a mournful refrain gradually gives way to laughter…. The published correspondence of Ignatius Sancho, the first known Black Briton to vote in a British election, and the first person of African descent known to be giv… more.

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Selection of tracks recorded by the Hawaiian Quintette for Victor in , series of recordings which went a long way toward establishing Hawaiian music as a signif… more. Audio Samples. Additional Information.


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    Swing Low Sweet Chariot

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    B elieve it or not, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot doesn't have its origins in a pitcher of beer and a soiled rugby jersey. Originally composed, it is believed, by a slave named Wallace Wallis in the 19th century, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot is regarded as a "negro spiritual", a Christian hymn that combined spiritual belief with the hardships of daily life as a slave in the United States.

    T heories also exist that the song features coded lyrics, ones designed at the time to lead slaves to the mythical Underground Railroad, while it also became associated with funerals within the black community. As Gareth May wrote in The Telegraph in , the differences between an early 20th century recording of the song and a typical rugby match version are stark. One is pleading and spiritual, something that wouldn't feel out of place in a Coen Brothers film, while the other is noticeably more celebratory. It is unknown whether there was any racial intent to the choice of song, but the anthem was quickly picked up by other members in the crowd.

    Swing Low Sweet Chariot: The slave song appropriated by English rugby

    T hen there is another rumour that the song has its rugby-related origins in the Sixties, where rugby fans began to chant the song accompanied by rude hand gestures. Neither theory has been explicitly confirmed. A version by the reggae band UB40 was subsequently commissioned as the official England Rugby theme song a year later. With the song's origins once again back in the headlines, few are explicitly arguing to have the song banned from English Rugby games, and even fewer are calling performance of the track "racist".

    I feel like the story of American chattel slavery and this incredible cultural tradition, built up within a community of people who were victims and often seen as incapable of standing up for themselves, is such a powerful story that I want the whole world to know about it.

    But apparently not everyone does. One interpretation of the song is that is about abolition and being rescued from slavery.