Time Life to do Civil Rights Box

 

 

Three-disc set timed
to come out just before Black History Month next year.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

December 10, 2008 -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, music 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 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, retelling the story both in music
and dramatic first-person accounts.

 

 

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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