The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #94726   Message #1836128
Posted By: Q (Frank Staplin)
16-Sep-06 - 03:00 PM
Thread Name: Songs of Canadian slavery?
Subject: RE: Songs of Canadian slavery?
Not of the period you are looking for, but there is an interesting report in Dena J. Epstein, "Sinful Tunes and Spirituals," p. 152 about a legal action filed in 1844 in the Chancery Court of Louisville. attaching the steamboat Pike "to recover damages for the unauthorized transportation of ... three slaves, Reuben, Henry and George, on board said steamboat from Louisville to Cincinnati, whence they escaped to Canada."
"The slaves were described as between nineteen and twenty-three years of age, well-trained as dining room servants and scientific musicians, in which capacity they had been in the habit, for some years, of playing together on various instruments, at balls and parties... each of them was worth $1500... taken on board the Pike ...1841... when they had with them, besides their clothes, musical instruments and books of the value of about $250..."
The complainant, Mr. Graham, stated that it would cost $500 to supply their services as musicians for a single season at his hotel at Harrodsburg Springs."

Epstein notes that these three slaves were highly skilled men. We know too little about slave musicians ... The relation of professional musicians, who were also slaves, to black folk music in the United States is a matter which has hardly been mentioned- case not unique.
I would not doubt that these three escaped slaves continued in their musical profession in Canada, but I have no information.