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Rhythm A Day Blog for March 30, 2020: Spiritual Baptist/Shouter Liberation Day

Posted by Wolf Murphy on

Spiritual Baptist/Shouter
Liberation Day

As soon as I saw "Shouter Liberation Day" as one of the holidays on March 30, I knew what I'd be investigating.

In 1917 in Trinidad and Tobago, the Shouter Prohibition Ordinance passed into law. It prohibited the activities of what was then, derogatorily, called the Shouter faith. It was called that because of the practice of using drums and loud bells and loud singing and speaking in tongues and doption as spiritual music. This was, of course, a racist act of oppression, while Trinidad and Tobago was still a British Colony. On the 30th of March, 1951, this act was repealed, though the country was still more than a decade away from independence.

The practitioners of this religion began calling it the Spiritual Baptist faith, to replace Shouter; nowadays, both are used and Shouter no longer carries the negative connotations it once did.

It is a syncretic Afro-American religion combining traditional African religion with Christianity, and Spiritual Baptists consider themselves Christians. The Baptist faith arrived in Trinidad with the Merikins, former American slaves recruited during the War of 1812 by the British to fight—against American. After the war the Merikins settled in Trinidad. They brought with them both the Baptist faith of the Second Great Awakening and Gullah culture. Later British missionary work brought some of the Baptist practice into greater conformity with European practice, but in the North of the country, African spirituality and practice blended with the Merikins contributions and Spiritual Baptism was born.

Many Spiritual Baptists are also practitioners of the Trinidad Orisha religion which, in Trinidad, is called Shango. While there are purists who insist that "Shango is Shango. Baptist is Baptist", in practice, the two are closely related. Shango services often start with Baptist hymns, and the two religions frequently share the same church!

And while we're at it, let's learn a new word that I dropped casually in up there, that explains some of the sound effects in the music I listened to researching for today's blog: Doption. The word derives from the English word adopt and refers to a groaning vocalization accompanying the drum rhythms during prayer or while deep in spiritual experience.

Here are our rhythms for today, taken from footage of drumming to celebrate Shouter Liberation day!

Today's Vlog Lesson

000

Here is a link to one of my source videos for these celebrations:


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