Sunday, April 22, 2018

YouTube Examples Of Traditional Arrangements Of The African American Spiritual "Trampin"

Edited by Azizi Powell

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

This post 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".

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 III of this series. Part III showcases some "non-traditional" African American YouTube examples of the "Spiritual" Trampin. The Addendum to Part III also 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).

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term "African American Spirituals" because "African American" is the formal term for this population as it replaced the outdated and now largely considered offensive term "Negro" in the 1970s.

I've added quotation marks to the word" spirituals" in this series because it's been 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, religious songs that were and are composed by African Americans after the 19th century in the early 20th century -even those that have the same structure/s as Spirituals are categorized as "early Gospel" songs.

"tramp (tr─âmp)
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.


(These verses are given here in no particular order. If these verses are used in the Spiritual "Trampin" (or any other Spiritual), their order may vary and they may be repeated at other times in that song.)

Example Verse #1
Leader - I ('ve) never been to Heaven but I've been told
Group - (Tryin to make Heaven my home)
Leader - That the streets of Heaven are paved with gold
Group -(Tryin to make Heaven my home)

Example Verse #2
One of these mornings and it won't be long
(Tryin to make Heaven my home)
You'll look for me and I'll be gone
(Tryin to make Heaven my home)

Example Verse #3
If you get there before I do
(Tryin to make Heaven my home)
Just tell my friends I'm comin too
(Tryin to make Heaven my home)

Example Verse #4
I went to the valley but I didn't go to stay
(Tryin to make Heaven my home)
My soul got happy and I stayed all day
(Tryin to make Heaven my home)

Example Verse #5
Oh the River of Jordan is chilly and cold
(Tryin to make Heaven my home)
It chills my body but it warms my soul
(Tryin to make Heaven my home)

Example Verse #6
Ole Satan's mad and I am glad
(Tryin to make Heaven my home)
He lost a soul he thought he had
(Tryin to make Heaven my home)
The first verse that was given ("I never been to heaven but I've been told" is usually but not always found in renditions of "Trampin".
Update: April 22, 2018 -I just remembered the first verse of the version of "Trampin" that I sung in the 1950s or early to mid-1960s (in Atlantic City, New Jersey)

Leader -I heard the voice of Jesus say-a
Choir- Tryin to make Heaven my home
Leader- Come unto me-e; I'll give you rest-est
Choir- Tryin to make heaven my home.

Another verse that we sang was:
Leader- If you don't believe I've been redeemed
Choir- Tryin to make Heaven my home
Leader- Just follow me down to Jordan stream
Choir- Tryin to make Heaven my home
Also, I remember a man with a deep voice singing the words "Oh Lord, you know I'm" sometimes before the choir sang the "Trampin Trampin" chorus.

The arrangement that is most like the one I remember is given as Example #3 in Part III of this series. That happens to be the one that the Rock & Rock great Little Richard sang.

Example #1: Ken Hanson-'I'm Trampin' arr by Uzee Brown, Jr

Kenneth Hanson, Published on Apr 12, 2010

Kenneth Hanson in concert at Convent Avenue Baptist Church in NYC on Feb 28, 2010 accompanied by Gregory Hopkins in an arrangement by Uzee Brown, Jr. Mr. Hanson sings with the Harlem Jubilee Singers under the direction of Mr. Hopkins

Example #2: Trampin' - Harlem Jubilee Singers

Arturo Carvajal, Published on Dec 12, 2011

Example #3: Trampin', Wings Over Jordan Choir - The Glory Of Black Gospel Volume 3

Pannellctp Traditional Gospel Music, Published on Jun 15, 2013

The Glory Of Black Gospel Volume 3 Release Date: 11/15/2001

Example #4: Trampin'

Various Artists – Topic, Published on Oct 1, 2015
Provided to YouTube by The Orchard Enterprises

Trampin' · The Harmonizers

This concludes Part II of this three part series.

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  1. I decided to research & publish this series on the African American Spiritual "Trampin" after coming across this YouTube video of a Louisiana high school stomp & shake cheerleading battle: Cheerleaders: Cheer Battle Dudley Vs. Smith High School (Senior Night)

    In the beginning of that video there's a voice over of the Dudley high school cheerleading squad's chant:"I don’t know what you been told/ But the baddest team Is the blue and gold".

    That chant is clearly an adaptation of the verse: "I've never been to Heaven but I've been told/that the streets up there are paved with gold".

    1. Here's the King James Bible source for the "streets are paved with gold" reference:

      Revelations 21:21

      "And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass."