Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.M. in Music

First Advisor

John Latartara

Second Advisor

Ricky Burkhead

Third Advisor

Michael Gardiner


University of Mississippi

Relational Format



This master's thesis presents a comparative analysis of the African American spiritual "Since I Laid My Burden Down." Through the use of various sources, including scholarly articles, books, and recordings, the origins, themes, and musical structures of the spiritual are explored. The study examines the historical context of African American spirituals and the importance of the call-and-response style, as well as the influence of gospel and blues music. The thesis also analyzes the performances of the song by Triumph The Church & Kingdom of God in Christ (2022), Mrs. Ulanda Crivens (2023), Shardé Thomas (2017), Othar Tuner (1982), Mississippi John Hurt (1966) and Tina Turner (1974), exploring their interpretations and the ways in which they convey the message of the spiritual. By examining the various aspects of the spiritual and its performance, this thesis seeks to provide a deeper understanding of the significance and meaning within the context of African American musical heritage. There are no in-depth analyses of the many different renditions of the standard hymn. The analyses will consider rhythm, melody, harmony, instrumentation, and form in addition to the geographical and biographical aspects. The music transcribed and analyzed in this study is limited to select recordings taken from various performers in Central and North Mississippi and Memphis, Tennessee, contrasting styles from traditional church settings and secular settings.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.