Michael Gray

Date of Award

Fall 2021

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


School of Music

First Advisor

Daniel Cole


This document is an historical compendium of how Richmond, Virginia contributed to a significant shift in early American music during and after the American Civil War. Firstly, we will explore the music industry practices of the 1850’s and 1860’s in Richmond, and how they were a reflection of the rest of the American South at that time. Secondly, we will explore the height of parlor song repertoire in the South, its technical simplicity, and use as a tool for music education, artistic expression, but perhaps most notably as a means of informal propaganda for the Confederate cause. Finally, we will highlight the significant musical shift after the downfall of the Confederate government in Richmond in 1865, as Northern publishers began cataloguing the first spirituals during the Reconstruction Era in the South. The subsequent sections and chapters are meant to highlight the transition in American music, from European-influenced parlor songs to the new repertoire of African American spirituals, which would precede the uniquely American genres of blues, jazz, and gospel. The repertoire, works, and ventures of the personalities discussed within this document span well beyond the boundaries of Richmond, Virginia, and are not limited to their contributions made during the several years of the American Civil War.


© 2021, Michael Gray