Even though Negro spirituals are one of the most popular black sacred music genres, they have not been extensively considered as a commoditized cultural product or as a founding popular music of the U.S. Filling this gap, Sandra Jean Graham’s Spirituals and the Birth of a Black Entertainment Industry examines the role of white-controlled Negro spirituals and jubilee performance in the establishment of the U.S. entertainment industry. She asserts that the entertainment industry was drawn from frequently exploited black labor: “built on black culture, black ingenuity, black bodies… it was embraced by black audiences who valued seeing their own community members onstage and knew how to...

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