Stepping at a fraternity, Creative Commons image
Stepping is a form of dance involving synchronized stomping, clapping, singing, and chanting. It was developed in the early 20th century by African-American fraternities and sororities. It was based on earlier African-American dance traditions known as ring shouts and patting juba. It also shares some similarities with Irish step dancing, perhaps because William Henry Lane, one of its early influences, performed with Irish dancers in New York City and London. Stepping includes call-response patterns, rapping, handclap games, military-style chants, and body movements kept low to the ground. It has become a popular form of entertainment in Appalachia, performed by youth and community groups in African-American churches and schools. It sometimes serves as the headliner for fundraising events at colleges and universities.
Below is the Digital Heritage Moment as broadcast on the radio:
- Mountain Dance and Folk Festival In 1928, Bascom Lamar Lunsford turned his vast knowledge of traditional music and his organizational skills to the creation of a local music festival. The Asheville Chamber of Commerce […]
- Mud Creek Missionary Baptist Church In May 1867, having been led by the spirit of God, newly freed slaves from Charleston joined with their ministers to establish the Mud Creek Missionary Baptist Church in East Flat Rock, […]
- Happy Land In 1865, a band of former slaves newly freed in Mississippi began searching for a new home. They settled near Tuxedo in Henderson County, North Carolina. They eventually bought 200 acres […]
- Banjo The banjo, a four or five string musical instrument with a leather or plastic head stretched over a circular wooden rim, is pictured by many as the symbol of Appalachian music. . .
- Etta Baker Etta Baker was an important Appalachian blues guitarist. Born in North Carolina’s Piedmont in 1913, she spent her adult life in the mountain town of Morganton. Her mixed African-American, […]