During the time of slavery in the United States, many slaves escaped to go north and seek their freedom. The Underground Railroad is the symbolic name given to the routes they traveled from safe house to safe house until they reached freedom. Music played a big role as songs gave coded instructions for the routes to follow and warned of dangers along the way. The songs also encouraged slaves to join the Underground Railroad; provided inspiration and support for the long journey north; and celebrated the end of a successful trip to freedom.
Listen to some of the songs that helped the slaves escape to the north, as well as others that celebrate freedom.
African-American composers featured on Classics for Kids®:
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Guide to Follow the Drinking Gourd
Pathways for Freedom: Maryland and the Underground Railroad
The history of spirituals
Kim and Reggie Harris
Appleseed Recordings 1022
Get On Board
William Grant Still
Cambria Records 1083
Ballad for Americans