Soo Bishop, the Deputy Director of Merton Music Foundation shared the info below:
The link below is worth listening too, especially if you are doing work on the pentatonic scale ( e.g. KS2 ‘Dragon Scales’ unit). There is a good explanation of how the pentatonic scale is used in spirituals and that white composers took this scale ( the ‘slave’ scale’, possibly originating in West African music) to compose spirituals. Wintley then sings Amazing Grace’…it is FAB!
At Carnegie Hall, gospel singer Wintley Phipps delivers perhaps the most powerful rendition of Amazing Grace ever recorded. He says, "A lot of people don't realize that just about all Negro spirituals are written on the black notes of the piano. Probably the most famous on this slave scale was written by John Newton, who used to be the captain of a slave ship, and many believe he heard this melody that sounds very much like a West African sorrow chant. And it has a haunting, haunting plaintive quality to it that reaches past your arrogance, past your pride, and it speaks to that part of you that's in bondage. We feel it. It's just one of the most amazing melodies in all of human history."
After sharing the noteworthy history of the song, Mr. Phipps delivers a stirring performance that brings the audience to its feet!
Take a look -