"Levee Camp Holler" is no ordinary song. It's the product of
ex-slaves who worked moving earth all day in post-Civil War America. It
has lyrics that, like the call to prayer, speak about a glorious God.
But it's the song's melody and note changes that closely resemble one
of Islam's best-known refrains. Like the call to prayer, "Levee Camp
Holler" emphasizes words that seem to quiver and shake in the reciter's
vocal chords. Dramatic changes in musical scales punctuate both "Levee
Camp Holler" and the adhan. A nasal intonation is evident in both.
of 30 percent of the African slaves in the United States were Muslim,
and an untold number of them spoke and wrote Arabic, historians say now.
or not, this traditional AfroAmerican folk music possesses features
that are found in Islamic African music and hardly at all in other
Grehart Kubik, a musicologist who specializes in African
rain-forest music, concludes: "Many traits that have been considered
unusual, strange and difficult to interpret by earlier blues
researchers can now be better understood as a thoroughly processed and
transformed Arabic-Islamic stylistic component. What makes the blues
different from African American music in the Caribbean and in South
America is, after all, its Arabic-Islamic stylistic ingredients."