Black Voices in American Music: The Playlist

Black voices created some of the first truly American music – the songs of sadness and the spirituals of people in bondage, singing of freedom and hope. Along the winding road of American history, black artists have explored the power of music as an expression of progress and protest, joy and pain, courage and conviction.

This playlist and the stories behind the songs bring together generations of essential voices who, through trials and triumphs, have created extraordinary music that echoes the irrepressible and irresistible sound of hope.

The music in this collection traces the lineage of black musicians. They are my artistic ancestors, the shoulders on which I stand. It is music with a bold vision, “out of category”, as Duke Ellington Put the. His new world coming envisions a world based on peace, brotherhood and unconditional love. nina simone cry for freedom; Jules Eastman embraces radical self-expression. Wynton Marsalis urges us to be present in our democracy; Aretha Franklin and Rhiannon Giddens give thanks for the possibility of redemption in “Amazing Grace”. Young composer Shawn Okpebholo goes back to our beginnings by reinventing the traditional spiritual “Oh, Freedom”.

This playlist is a work in progress – an outward branching family tree, growing from strong roots and reaching for the rising sun of a brand new day.

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