Chuck D on the Music of the Civil Rights and career





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Published on Jan 27, 2009

Remembering The Past
While Celebrating The Present

Let Freedom Sing: The Music of the Civil Rights Movement
Box Set out now

Songs Include Anthems and Rarities,
Such As Previously Unreleased
Nat King Cole's
"We Are Americans Too"

(Fairfax, VA) - It is one of the most inspiring, powerful and emotional 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. And throughout the movement, music played a role unlike any other. It did not simply generate memorable songs reflecting the time and the events, it helped lead from the frontlines. The songs of the Civil Rights movement are the subject of Let Freedom Sing: The Music of the Civil Rights Movement, a stunning new 3-CD set from that will be released during Black History Month 2009. An accompanying documentary film co-produced by Time Life for PBS and TV-One will be broadcast in conjunction with the set's release in February, retelling the story both in music and dramatic first-person accounts. The documentary will them become available on DVD on March 3rd.

Let Freedom Sing: The Music of the Civil Rights Movement assembles inspiring, bold and hopeful music that reflects the emotions and power of the movement. While the collection wouldn't be complete without iconic songs ("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"), the curators of the set were also careful to include 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.

The escalating bitterness of the 1960s is captured in songs like Nina Simone's "Mississippi Goddam," Phil Ochs' "Too Many Martyrs," and John Lee Hooker's "The Motor City Is Burning." The riots following Dr. King's assassination are echoed in George Perkins' "Cryin' in the Streets." And the Black Power era is reflected in Sly & the Family Stone's "Stand," Curtis Mayfield's "We the People Who Are Darker than Blue," Lee Dorsey's "Yes We Can" (adapted as a campaign slogan by President-Elect Barack Obama), and Gil Scott Heron's 1971 classic "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised "(cited by many as the first rap record). The story continues to the present day with artists such as Chuck D, who also wrote the introduction to the set.
"This project was conceived almost two years ago because we understood the importance of bringing the story to life and taking the time to get it right," states Michael Mitchell, Vice President of Marketing and Strategic Partnerships at Time Life Music. "For centuries, music vividly communicated injustices, especially for African-Americans in the South. This set encapsulates the struggles that eventually allowed African Americans, like me, to rise within our chosen professions, and allowed President-Elect r Barack Obama to capture the nomination as the 44th President of the United States. Notably, in his acceptance speech, he adapted the words of Sam Cooke's "Change Is Gonna Come." The songs bring the movement alive with more immediacy than any other medium, and when we listen to Let Freedom Sing from beginning to end, we realize what an incredible transformation has taken place during our lifetime." Time Life's Vice President of Audio & Video Retail, Mike Jason, adds, "From the dark and ominous 'Strange Fruit' to the joyous message of 'Free At Last,' the set is filled with songs that reflect the painful, yet ultimately triumphant, Civil Rights struggle. Music nurtured the movement and the movement inspired the music. The nation's lowest point is undoubtedly its treatment of African Americans while the ability of African Americans to contribute so prodigiously to the culture in spite of that treatment is perhaps the finest example of what we can be as a nation. It's an honor for all of us at Time Life to share this music and a small part of the story."

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