Album: "Freedom Highway" by Rhiannon Giddens
Giddens' second studio album is named for and features a cover of The Staple Singers' 1965 civil rights protest song. "Freedom Highway" was nominated for Album of the Year at the 2017 Americana Music Honors & Awards.
Film: "Freedom Writers"
Hillary Swank stars as a teacher who tries to heal racial divides among her students by inspiring them to write. Based on a true story.
The stunning animated video for Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” brings the reggae legend’s powerful message of hope and freedom alive with powerful imagery. A prophet, a poet, and forever a man of the people, his music and legacy are as inspiring now as ever. Stream/download more songs of freedom by Bob Marley, like “Rainbow Country”, on Freegal.
This week I found a couple of lecture series that look at American history with an exploratory and questioning tone. The first was The Skeptic's Guide to American History, which is quite long, but each lecture is only about half an hour. The second is The Unfinished Nation series , which is even longer and goes even further back into the history of North America. Both are available on Kanopy. If you've got some free time, now is a great time to examine our country's history.
Around the 4th of July I usually get a hankering to listen to some American music by some of our noted songwriters and composers. MediciTV has plenty of performances of works by music makers and creators from the USA.
I recommend Walt Disney Concert Hall Celebrates Gershwin featuring Herbie Hancock and Gustavo Dudamel, which includes An American in Paris and Rhapsody in Blue.
Leonard Bernstein is well represented with recordings of his work and also his groundbreaking TV series from the mid-1950s Leonard Bernstein Omnibus in glorious Black and White. I advise you to check out the American Musical Comedy episode.
Go to Freegal for downloading or streaming music. They usually have a featured holiday playlist and there is one for the Fourth of July which features American classics from all eras and genres of music. You can use the playlist as a jumping off place to explore Freegal’s deep archive. Listen to the soundtrack of Bernstein’s West Side Story, delve into the catalog of Woody Guthrie songs, and listen to the jazz of Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald or Duke Ellington.
Freegal also has some downloadable videos- don’t miss Bruce Springsteen’s lyrically and musically evocative song 4th of July, Asbury Park which perfectly captures a certain time, place and emotional state.
As Independence Day approaches, I thought about movies that serve to remind us of our cherished freedoms as American citizens. Happy 4th!
This movie, inspired by true events, reminded me that there is always more than one side to any story. People are not always who you think they are, we need to listen and look for truth. I first saw this movie at the Cinequest Film Festival and it was voted as an audience favorite that year!
The right to vote is an important place to express our voice as citizens. It is both a freedom and a responsibility. This is a small film about a BIG topic: American Democracy. Let freedom ring! Both films are available on Kanopy.
Meaning of July 4th by Frederick Douglass
No more auction block for me – Paul Robeson
In the turbulence of war, in a place where survival was just short of miraculous, the Aleuts of Alaska would redefine themselves -- and America. From indentured servitude and isolated internment camps, to Congress and the White House, this is the incredible story of the Aleuts' decades-long struggle for human and civil rights. Narrated by Martin Sheen and original music score by Composer Alan Koshiyama, the program draws compelling parallels to the present, as our country grapples with the challenging question of the balance between civil liberties and national security.
All from Alexander Street.
1776 is a delightful musical celebration of the founding of The United States of America. The story centers around the familiar historical characters as they organize a movement for independence from Mother England. All events lead up to that most significant date, July 4, 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was signed. This is the DVD "restored" version which runs ca. 166 minutes -- longer than the theatrical release cut, yet shorter than the laserdisc "restored" version.
Fanfare For the Common Man: You've heard this piece. It's been used extensively in films and television. Although it is so patriotic to Americans, some feel it is the "official fanfare for all the common people of the world." You can hear this piece along with Lincoln portrait, Canticle of Freedom and others, performed by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, with readings by James Earl Jones on Portraits of Freedom.
The Freedom to Marry traces the marriage equality movement's historic progress in the effort to form a more perfect union.
Feeling Good by Nina Simone
A few of my favorite bands from my university years have also put together great albums for children, with a focus on peace, love, and freedom:
I Got Shoes by Sweet Honey in the Rock brings freedom and justice to all ages in their characteristic style of conversational, communal music.
Songs of Peace & Love: For Kids & Parents Around the World by Ladysmith Black Mambazo entreat us all to come together and help build a better world.
And, A Life of Song by Ella Jenkins celebrates the youthful experiences and influences of "The First Lady of the Children's Folk Song."
If you're interested in streaming or downloading music from Freegal, that site has more Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Ella Jenkins, and the soundtrack from the movie Freedom Song, composed and performed by Sweet Honey in the Rock.
One of my all time favorite sources of how the American system works is the Schoolhouse Rock video series. Check out not only how legislation passes but also nifty hints on addition and grammar, all delivered with catchy tunes.
Movies & Music - Question of the Week
Marvin Gaye’s awesomely ‘80s performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” made the crowd go wild at this event in 1983.
Super Bowl XVII0
The World Series0
The Summer Olympics0
NBA All-Star Game0
The Stanley Cup Finals0
Last week's trivia answer was: The Lost Boys