American roots music (a popular folk music category) includes blues, zydeco, and gospel. All are either native to this country or grew into unique forms out of earlier, foreign origins.
Songs of praise, also known as spiritual music, in particular, are often meant for group singing in which anyone can participate. Casey Bell, author of Casey’s Song Book, several young adult books, poetry books, and producer of the CSB.tv series of interviews with writers, took some time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about the music he writes:
Q: When did you start writing song lyrics?
A: I was six years old when I wrote my first song. “You Gotta Share It.” It was a quick and simple song I wrote to music from a video game that my brother played continuously. After hearing the music over and over again, for whatever reason, I started signing these lyrics and can still remember them today.
Q: Casey’s Song Book does not include musical notation. The only instrument required appears to be the human voice. Is that because you want people to develop their own styles?
A: It depends on the day I wrote them. Some of the songs are dated. I have songs written in journals from the 1990s to 2021. My inspirations come from the day itself: successful, challenging, etc.Q: You also write other types of folk music, many of which are poems on the page. How do you decide if the words will be a poem or a song?
A: As weird as it sounds, everything I write decides for itself what it will be. I simply let it write itself. In most cases I do not even plan to write a song or poem. An event happens in my life and the words fill my spirit and so I write them.
Q: You are also a playwright, performer, speaker, and educator. What are a few of the other projects you are currently working on?
A: I recently finished a short film, “#MaleToo.” It is a film about male models dealing with sexual assault in the modeling industry. I have entered the film in a few film festivals. It won the Award of Recognition: Liberation / Social Justice / Protest and Issues / Awareness Raising from Best Shorts Competition.