Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Let Freedom Sing: Songs from the Movement

If you missed the live 2010 White House Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement, here’s the next best thing.

In January, 2009, Time Life released Let Freedom Sing: The Music of the Civil Rights Movement.

The outstanding 3 CD box set includes 2 pages of provocative liner notes written by Public Enemy front man Chuck D.

His comments are part of a large, colorful, 40 page booklet that includes lots of facts about all the songs.

Chuck says “there’s a reason why listening to the past 100 years of black music can bring a sense of voice, sound, meaning, joy, and pain...as well as a historical timeline."

He adds “way before an iPod, these songs rang in my head as they navigated me through my near half a century of life."

What’s great about this collection is the representation of each of the post 1930 - 20th century decades.

Historical facts acknowledging key years pertaining to the civil rights movement are also included in their own highlighted paragraphs weaved between the elaborate music notes.

The Southern Sons kick things off on disc one with “Go Down Moses,” recorded in 1941.

Six of the tracks are from the 1930’s and 1940’s.  Four are from the 1950’s, including Nat King Cole’s stirring 1956 classic “We Are Americans Too."

As you’ll see from the track list below, no decade is left out. The best songs from the civil rights movement are included.

There are some excellent alternative versions rather than hits you might expect.

Otis Redding, not Sam Cooke sings “A Change is Gonna Come.” Bob & Marcia, not Nina Simone sings “Young, Gifted, and Black."

The liner notes have all the back-stories about why these versions were selected.

Watch our 90 second video to hear clips of 3 of the songs.

Let Freedom Sing: The Music of the Civil Rights Movement:


    Disc One
  1. “Go Down Moses” - The Southern Sons, 1941
  2. “Strange Fruit” - Billie Holiday, 1939
  3. “Uncle Sam Says” - Josh White, 1941
  4. “ No Restricted Signs” - The Golden Gate Quartet, 1947
  5. “Black, Brown, and White” - Brownie McGhee, 1947
  6. “The Hammer Song (If I Had a Hammer)” - The Weavers, 1949
  7. “The Death of Emmett Till” parts 1 & 2 - The Ramparts, 1955,
  8. “When Do I Get To Be Called A Man” - Big Bill Broonzy, 1955
  9. “The Alabama Bus” - Brother Will Hairston, 1956
  10. “We Are Americans Too” - Nat King Cole, 1956
  11. “Why Am I Treated So Bad” - The Staple Singers, 1966
  12. “I Shall Not Be Moved” - The Harmonizing Four, 1959
  13. “Oh Freedom” - Harry Belafonte, 1959
  14. “Ride On, Red, Ride On” - Louisiana Red, 1962
  15. “Mississippi Goddam” - Nina Simone, 1964
  16. “ Blowin’ In The Wind” - Bob Dylan, 1962
  17. “We Shall Overcome” - Mahalia Jackson, 1963
  18. “Too Many Martyrs” - Phil Ochs, 1964
  19. “Alabama Blues” - J. B. Lenoir, 1965
  20. “Our Freedom Song” - The Jubilee Hummingbirds, 1965
  21. “A Change Is Gonna Come” - Otis Redding, 1965


    Disc Two
  1. “Forty Acres and A Mule” - Oscar Brown Jr., 1965
  2. “People Get Ready” - The Impressions, 1965
  3. “Nobody Can Turn Me Around” - The Mighty Clouds of Joy, 1966
  4. “I Wish I Knew (How It Would Feel To Be Free)” - Solomon Burke, 1968
  5. “Respect” - Aretha Franklin, 1967
  6. “The Motor City is Burning” - John Lee Hooker, 1967
  7. “Cryin In The Streets” part 1 - George Perkins & The Silver Stars, 1968
  8. “Abraham, Martin, and John” - Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, 1969
  9. “The Prayer” Ray Scott, 1970
  10. “Say It Loud - I’m Black and I’m Proud” part 1 - James Brown, 1968
  11. “And Black is Beautiful” - Nickie Lee, 1968
  12. “Sock It To ‘Em Soul Brother” - Bill Moss, 1969
  13. “Why I Sing The Blues” part 1 - B.B. King, 1969
  14. “I Don’t Want Nobody To Give Me Nothin (Open Up The Door, I’ll Get It Myself)” part 1 - James Brown, 1969
  15. “Stand!” - Sly & The Family Stone, 1969
  16. “Message From A Black Man” - The Temptations, 1969
  17. “Is It Because I’m Black” - Sly Johnson, 1969
  18. “I Was Born Blue” - Swamp Dogg, 1970
  19. “Yes, We Can” part 1 - Lee Dorsey, 1970
  20. “We the People Who Are Darker Than Blue” - Curtis Mayfield, 1970
  21. “Young, Gifted, and Black” - Bob & Marcia, 1970


    Disc Three
  1. “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” - Gil Scott-Heron, 1971
  2. “(For God’s Sake) Give More Power To The People” - The Chi-Lites, 1971
  3. “Smiling Faces Sometimes” - Undisputed Truth, 1971
  4. “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)” - Marvin Gaye, 1971
  5. “Hercules” - Aaron Neville, 1973
  6. “Get Up, Stand Up” - Bob Marley and The Wailers, 1973
  7. “Fight The Power” part 1 - Isley Brothers, 1975
  8. “Give The People What They Want” - O’Jays, 1975
  9. “Black Is Black” - Jungle Brothers, 1988
  10. “Sister Rosa” - The Neville Brothers, 1989
  11. “The Pride” - Chuck D., 1996
  12. “Unity” - Sounds of Blackness, 2005
  13. “None of Us Are Free” - Solomon Burke, 2002
  14. “Eyes On The Prize” - The Sojourners, 2007
  15. “Down In Mississippi” - Mavis Staples, 2007
  16. “Free At Last” - The Blind Boys of Alabama, 2008

As you can see, this 3-disc box set is excellent.  Don’t know some of the artists?  Discover the songs by checking out Let Freedom Sing: The Music of the Civil Rights Movement.

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Posted by Hugh Smith on 02/24 at 07:00 PM
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