From his earliest days, Jim Thomas has been fascinated with the history of his ancestors. His great-grandmother was a slave, and in his youth she shared personal accounts of that life, as well as intriguing stories of secrets embedded in the seemingly innocuous spirituals she and other slaves sang while forced into labor. Later, while attending Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, Thomas sought the opportunity to perform spirituals with the world renowned Fisk Jubilee Singers. It was there that he turned his intensely personal interest into a lifelong quest for information and history, with a goal of filling in gaps left from superficial accounts of slave life and culture in textbooks and other media. These experiences have inspired Thomas’ U.S. Slave Song Project, an endeavor intended to promote the cultural sophistication and intellectual savvy of slaves in America.