This module is for Grades 6-8 Introduction

African American pioneers in Maryland's seafood industry shaped local culture along the Chesapeake Bay.

African Americans, like people from all around the world, have historically utilized music to accompany work or physical labor for centuries. In this lesson, you will explore how African American watermen on the Chesapeake used music while catching and processing seafood from the 19th through the 20th centuries.

Who were African American watermen and women of the Chesapeake? This clip from Water's Edge: Black Watermen of the Chesapeake gives a brief explanation.



In today’s lesson, you will:

  1. Explore African American music-making surrounding the Chesapeake seafood industry.
  2. Listen to and analyze examples of two musical forms that were performed by members of this community.
  3. Describe similarities and differences in the music.
  4. Identify how context and culture shaped and impacted music-making for African Americans in this regional industry.

Key Vocabulary

Select the arrows to review these key vocabulary terms. Select the Turn button to read the definition for each vocabulary word.


Essential Questions

  1. What are work songs, spirituals, and chanteys?
  2. How are these song traditions alike? How are they different?
  3. How did African Americans of the Chesapeake use music while working?
  4. Why were these song traditions important?