Black History Month Special
11:34 am
Fri February 15, 2013

Let Freedom Sing: Music of the Abolitionists (2/22- 9am)

Hosted by Noah Adams, this program chronicles the idealistic artists, uncompromising personalities, and powerful music of the era, and looks at how these forces combined to turn abolitionism from a scorned fringe movement into a nation-changing force. Listen live on WEMU Friday, February 22 at 9am for special Black History Month coverage on WEMU.

“Any good crusade requires singing,” reformers like to say, and in the 19th Century, no cause was more righteous than in the decades-long crusade to abolish slavery."

Let Freedom Sing, hosted by NPR’s Noah Adams, chronicles of the idealistic artists, uncompromising personalities, and powerful music of the era, and looks at how these forces combined to turn abolitionism from a scorned fringe movement into a nation-changing force.

Aided by Vanderbilt and Middle Tennessee State University musicologist Dale CockrellLet Freedom Sing profiles: 

Hutchinson Family Singers (1845; unknown artist; from the Metropolitan Museum, New York)

  • Henry Russell, the barnstorming Anglo-Jewish pianist and singer dubbed the master of “chutzpah and huzzah,”
  • the Milford, New Hampshire-based Hutchinson Family Singers, remembered as America’s first protest singers,
  • Stephen Collins Foster, America’s greatest – and most misunderstood – songwriter of the 19th century, who brought the rhetoric of the Abolitionists into America’s middle-class piano parlors,
  • Chicago publisher turned composer George F. Root, author of the anthemic "Battle Cry of Freedom,"
  • and songwriter Henry Clay Work, author of the Emancipation anthem "Kingdom Coming."


Hear Let Freedom Sing: Music of the Abolitionists on WEMU, Friday February 22, at 9am.