Get stories like this in your inbox (free!)
Posted by Orville Johnson
Excerpted from Arranging Folk and Blues Songs
“Ain’t No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down” is an American spiritual that dates back to the Civil War era. Like many spirituals from that period, the lyrics revolve around the subject of freedom with metaphors drawn from biblical themes of resurrection, struggle, and redemption. The minor-sounding melody and religious imagery provide a rich backdrop for the powerful narrative.
The key of A minor feels right at home for my voice, but if you find that it falls outside of your own range, try using a capo to move it around and into a key that works for you.