Here you will be able to listen to songs the slaves sang while they worked, while they had fun, and while they were practicing their religion.

Music and dancing was very important to slaves. It gave them hope and helped them get through the grueling days. Slaves would dance and sing while they had free time, usually on Sundays and holidays. Slaves used many instruments, however they also practiced "patting juba" which was just the clapping of their hands. The very talented musicians and singers were praised by whites and slaves.
Slaves used music as their language and as a way to express their feelings. They would sing field hollers to communicate to others working in the fields. No matter what mood they were feeling there was always a song that they could sing. Music put their feelings, such as hope or sorrow, into a rhythm that only slaves could understand. Some states banned the slaves from beating on a drum because they were scared they were speaking to each other about rebelling. Music was the only form of freedom they had.

Free Time

Slaves had lots of free time, which allowed them take pleasure out of their lives. Plantation slaves usually had Saturday nights and Sundays off from work. During this important leisure time, they would do many things, but often they would have parties. At these parties, they would dance, sing, talk and have fun. There were many different slave dances, including the "Buzzard Lope", the "Pigeon Wing" and the widely popular "Patting Juba". In addition, slaves sometimes had enjoyable corn-shucking competitions, where they would talk and socialize. Also, Christmas was a very important time for slaves, especially in regards to the exchanging of gifts. Slaves often gave tiny gifts which either had meaning to their family or to their African heritage. Even though slaves were treated brutally, some still managed to have their bit of well-deserved fun.


In Antebellum Slavery Plantation Slave Life by Leanne Carol, slaves struggled to establish an ideal family life. The ideal family was one with a father, mother, and children. There was also an emphasis on more distant family such as grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Marriages between slaves were not given legal recognition, but were encouraged by many masters, because it was at an advantage to them. With marriages, came happiness and less opposition. There also came more children, which increased the work force. The marriage ceremony was characterized by jumping over a broomstick and saying vows such as “till death or distance do you part”