I regularly post links to some related BBC shows that touch on the material we cover on the module or material that we don’t always have time to go into enough depth with. Here we have a celebration of the like of Martin Luther King in the 50th anniversary year of his death from Radio 4’s Great Lives series.
You can stream the show here or you can download an mp3 here.
Show notes below:
Actor Clarke Peters narrates a special edition of Soul Music marking fifty years since the assassination of the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King on April 4th 1968.
“If in doubt, pray and sing” an activist recalls how music was used as part of Dr King’s non-violent resistance movement.
This edition of Soul Music tells the stories of the songs behind the Civil Rights Movement including the spirituals and freedom songs that were integral to the struggle. In the 19th century, music became a tool for protest and resistance among the enslaved peoples of the American South. The programme hears the stories behind some of the most popular anthems and Freedom Songs that were later used as part of the civil resistance movement that eventually led to voting rights and desegregation. From Swing Low Sweet Chariot and We Shall Overcome to Amazing Grace, Strange Fruit and A Change Is Gonna Come, witnesses to and participants in the Civil Rights Movement recall how songs were such a vital part of the story.
Producer: Maggie Ayre.
There’s a wonderful BBC Radio 4 series called Soul Music where people discuss pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact. This particular episode starts with the famous Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes track ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’, with Teddy Pendergrass on vocals, and works it’s way through stories of spinal paralysis, the HIV epidemic, and the death of a service dog. This is the quintessential Philly sound.
Slate.com recently named this episode as #13 in their list of the best 25 podcasts of all time. It’s an emotional roller coaster:
The BBC Radio 4 show Soul Music investigates the emotional resonance of famous pieces of music. This installment, about the song “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” which was first performed in the early 1970s by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, with Teddy Pendergrass on vocals, features a trio of interwoven segments about death, loss, and faith. The episode connects the stories of Pendergrass, who was paralyzed in a car accident at age 42; the gay community in the U.K., which danced to a remix version of the tune while mourning the loss of friends during the AIDS crisis; and Sharon Wachsler, homebound by illness, who turned to the song during dark times. The song itself, heard in its different recordings throughout the episode, gains layers of meaning, becoming more haunting and beautiful each time we hear it.
There’s some other wonderful instalments. Check out the way in which Billie Holliday’s ‘Strange Fruit‘ acts as the backdrop to stories of horror and anguish during the era of race lynching, or Labi Siffre’s ‘Something Inside So Strong‘ and South Africa’s era of apartheid.
Med332 soul, funk and protest (civil rights movement) from Rob Jewitt
Paul Gilroy (2009) ‘”Get up, get into it and get involved” – Soul, Civil Rights and Black Power’ in John Storey (ed) Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: A Reader – 4th Edition, Harlow: Pearson. Chapter 31
Brian Ward (1998) Just My Soul Responding: Rhythm and Blues, Black Consciousness, and Race Relations, University of California Press. Chapters 5-9 [library link]
Craig Werner (2002) A Change is Gonna Come: Music, Race and the Soul of America, Edinburgh: Cannongate Books Ltd (section 1) [library link]
Joe Stuessy & Scott Lipscomb (2013) Rock and Roll: It’s History and It’s Stylistic Developments, Pearson – Chapter 9, [library link]