Sunday, April 22, 2018

Gospelized Spiritual & Other Non-Traditional Examples Of The African American Spiritual "Trampin"

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part III of a three part pancocojams series on the African American Spiritual "Trampin'".

This post showcases some "non-traditional" African American YouTube examples of the "Spiritual" Trampin. (Note that one of these examples (given as Example #3 below) is sung by Rock & Roll great "Little Richard".

The Addendum to Part III showcases an example of "Trampin" that was recorded by the White American singer Patti Smith as that version appears to be the most widely known example of this song (based on Google searches).

Click for Part I of this series. Part I presents excerpts of two online biographical articles about Edward Boatner. The Addendum to that post includes additional online references to Edward Boatner as well as comments about the song "Trampin" from the online folk music forum "Mudcat".

Click for Part II of this series. Part II provides definitions for the word "trampin(g)" and includes some examples of floating verses from Spirituals which have been used in the renditions of "Trampin". Part II also showcases some YouTube examples of "traditional" renditions of "Trampin".

The content of this post is presented for religious and cultural purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are featured in the YouTube examples that are embedded in this post. Thanks also to the publishers of these songs on YouTube.

"African American Spirituals" is the term that I prefer to use for that body of music that has generally been referred to as "Negro Spirituals". I prefer the term "African American Spirituals" because "African American" is the formal term for this population as it replaced the outdated and now largely considered offensive term "Negro" in the 1970s.

It's my position that "spirituals" usually refers to certain religious songs composed by unknown Black Americans prior to the end of the 19th century. According to that position, I usually categorize religious songs that were and are composed by African Americans (or others) after the 19th century in the early 20th century -even those that have the same structure/s as Spirituals are usually categorized as "early Gospel" songs. I also used the term "Gospelized Spirituals" to describe arrangements of Spirituals in an African American Gospel style.

In the context of this post, the word "non-traditional" is used to refer to arrangements that I believe differ in some way or ways from the tune, tempo, and structure, and usually also in lyrics, to early collected or recorded arrangements of African American Spirituals. Many, but not all of these examples have more "gospelized" styles and/or more uptempo than the traditional arrangements.

"tramp (trămp)
v. tramped, tramp·ing, tramps
1. To walk with a firm, heavy step; trudge.
a. To travel on foot; hike."

"Definition of tramp
intransitive verb
1 : to walk, tread, or step especially heavily tramped loudly on the stairs
2 a : to travel about on foot : hike
b : to journey as a tramp
transitive verb
1 : to tread on forcibly and repeatedly
2 : to travel or wander through or over on foot have tramped all the woods on their property"
Pancocojams Editor's Note:
I've included these definitions because the verb "trampin(g)" is rarely used nowadays in conversational English.
Pancocojams Editor's Note:
I've included these definitions because the verb "trampin(g)" is rarely used nowadays in conversational English.

Example #1: Helen Robinson Youth Choir singing Trampin

Gospellin, Published on Feb 17, 2009

Jeanette Robinson on the lead
Here's a comment from that video's publisher:
gospellin, 2009
"It'a an old Negro spiritual that has been re-arranged it's Trampin'.The record label also reads Trampin."

Example #2: Trampin'

Regina Carter – Topic, Published on Nov 8, 2014
Provided to YouTube by Sony Music Entertainment

Trampin' · Regina Carter

Southern Comfort

℗ 2013 Regina Carter, under exclusive license to Sony Music Entertainment

Released on: 2014-02-28

Composer: Traditional / Traditional / トラディショナル
Bass, Programmer, Arranger: Jesse Murphy

Released on: 2000-01-01

Auto-generated by YouTube.

Example #3: I'm Trampin'

Little Richard - Topic
Published on Nov 5, 2014
Provided to YouTube by The Orchard Enterprises

I'm Trampin' · Little Richard

Long Tall Sally (Live)

℗ 2012 Dance Plant Records/TMC

Released on: 2012-05-10

Memphis Gospel Quartet Heritage, The 1980's: Happy in the Service of the Lord Volume 1
℗ 2000 Highwater Records
Here are my transcriptions of the two floating verses that Little Richard sung as lead to this song:

Must Jesus Bare the cross alone
And all the world go free
Yes there’s a cross for everyone
And there’s a cross for me

Amazing grace how street the sound
that saved a wrench like me
I once was lost but now I’m found
was blind but now I see

Example #4: TRAMPIN'

Carl Wells, Published on Oct 22, 2016


Song arr. by Dr. Carl R. Wells
For the John Work Chorus
Of the Former Booker T. Washington High School

Example #4: Marian Anderson - "Trampin'"

Jenkem Chic, Published on Jul 31, 2017

20's Gospel/Musical version of "Trampin'" by Marian Anderson.
Marion Anderson's rendition of "Trampin" is operatic. It's tempo is much slower than traditional renditions of this Spiritual that I have heard and sung.

ADDENDUM- Patti Smith's rendition of "Trampin"

Patti Smith Trampin'

macamaranik, Published on Sep 1, 2011
I'm trampin', trampin' Try'n a make heaven my home
I'm trampin trampin Try'n a make heaven my home...

I've never been to heaven But I've been told
Try'n a make heaven my home That the streets up there
Are paved with gold Try'n a make heaven my home

I'm trampin trampin Try'n a make heaven my home
I'm trampin trampin Try'n a make heaven my home...

Here's some information about Patti Smith's version of "Trampin" from
"Album: Trampin'
Released: 2004
“Patti Smith closes her Trampin' album with this title track, which is a traditional folk song written in the Gospel tradition. It is a collaboration between Smith's daughter Jesse Lee Smith's piano and Patti's voice. She explained to Uncut magazine October 2004: "I like Marion Anderson and I have a little space where I paint and take photographs and I often listen to Gospel records and spirituals. That little song, for the past couple of years, has always attracted me, and I asked my daughter if she would learn it on piano. That's my daughter playing and it's live, we just did it a couple of times and took one that was honest. And that's what we did. I'm very proud of her, I think she did a beautiful job. And I intentionally wanted it to have a modest approach, because it is a spiritual and I'm certainly not Marion Anderson. I intentionally wanted the song to have a very reflective, modest feel."
Smith said that she was attracted to the song as, "it does have a weary quality but it's optimistic." She added: "This person is trampin' trying to find Heaven, they're not just trying to get to the corner store, or just trying to get to a soup kitchen, they're going for the highest place. I like the little song, and there's a lot of miles tramped in this album, and I think it was a good way to end it." “

This concludes this three part series on "Trampin".

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