Remembering the Past While Celebrating the Present

Let Freedom Sing: The Music of the Civil Rights Movement on January 27, 2009

FAIRFAX, Va., Nov 14, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — Let Freedom Sing: The Music of the Civil Rights Movement
It is one of the most inspiring stories in American history. Within a generation, Americans of African descent overturned several hundred years of slavery and brutally enforced segregation to win their Civil Rights. Civil Rights wasn’t the first movement in American history to generate memorable songs, but it was the first in which music not only reflected the movement but drove it. The songs of the Civil Rights movement are the subject of a stunning new 3-CD set from Time Life Music that will be released during Black History Month 2009.
Let Freedom Sing–The Music of the Civil Rights Movement traces a seventy-year journey with songs that reflect the thoughts and feelings of those at the forefront affected by the movement as well as those simply trying to make sense of a troubled period in our history. Some of the songs are well-known (Respect, Change Is Gonna Come, Blowin’ in the Wind, We Shall Overcome, Say It Loud I’m Black and I’m Proud, People Get Ready, Get up–Stand up, and many more) but the set also includes extremely rare recordings such as Brother Will Hairston’s account of the Montgomery bus boycott, The Alabama Bus, and Nat King Cole’s unreleased protest song from that era, We Are Americans Too.
The story begins with Go Down Moses (“let my people go”), one of many spirituals that led African Americans on their quest for Civil Rights. It continues with a bitter indictment of the lynchings that plagued the South after the Civil War (Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit) and an equally bitter indictment of the treatment of African Americans in the armed forces during World War II (Josh White’s Uncle Sam Says). No Restricted Signs and Black, Brown and White protested the segregation that greeted returning servicemen. The call for change became more clamorous during the 1950s with the bus boycotts, the lynching of Emmett Till, the enforced integration of schools in Little Rock, Arkansas, and the lunch counter sit-ins. All were etched memorably in song.