The Social Power Of Music

New folk boxed set


Smithsonian Folkways Recordings Announces New Box Set:

The Social Power of Music
to be released February 22, 2019


On February 22,  2019 Smithsonian Folkways Recordings will release The Social Power of Music, a new box set that examines the roles of music in our lives from many angles and through many voices.  Over four CDs, 80+ tracks and an illustrated 124-page booklet, The Social Power of Music presents some of the most powerful moments in Smithsonian Folkways’ vast and ever-expanding catalog, putting them in conversation with each other to highlight the ways song has shaped the societies we live in

The Social Power of Music looks at this music through four different perspectives.  Disc 1: Songs of Struggle channels the visceral power of the fight for civil rights, featuring household names from Folkways’ archives including Woody Guthrie, The Freedom Singers and Pete Seeger, and songs that defined a generation.  Disc 2: Sacred Sounds presents music from many religions and spiritual practices, in some cases drawing from rarely heard or known ceremonies.  Disc 3: Social Songs and Gatherings shows how we use music to come together, often in celebration.  Disc 4: Global Movements looks to the use of roots music in key political movements around the world, tapping into anti-fascist verses, odes to the working class, and polemics against governmental corruption and violence.

The box set, and the idea of music’s centrality to the way people connect to one another, inspired the upcoming Smithsonian Year of Music, which presents music and sound events in Washington, DC and around the country every day throughout 2019.  The series will kick off with a listening party for the compilation on January 2, 2019 at Songbyrd Record Café and Music House in Washington DC.  “The Social Power of Music” will also be the animating theme of the 2019 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which takes place annually on the National Mall.

Listen to a sampler from the box set:


The Freedom Singers, Woody Guthrie, Bobbie McGee, Pete Seeger, Quetzal, Fannie Lou Hamer, Country Joe McDonald,

Paul Robeson, The Almanac Singers, Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger, Barbara Dane and the Chambers Brothers,

The Paschall Brothers, Rose Maddox, Clifton Chenier, Flaco Jiménez and Max Baca,

Elizabeth Mitchell, Rebirth Jazz Band, Suni Paz, Yves Montand, and many more

The massive scope and virtuosic assembling of this box set may reflect the original vision of Smithsonian Folkways to record and document the entire world.  Songs that rang true in the 1960’s, railing against the plight of women, minorities and human rights, are just as poignant over fifty years later, as the world has begun to roll back much of what was gained by the global civil rights movements. There’s a visceral power, a frisson, in hearing how the lyrics in The Social Power of Music reverberate across generations and cultures.  The hope for the artists making this music at the time, for us listening now, and for those writing new songs inspired by this music, is the same as it ever was: to show us the paths to make a better world.

“When you think about human life, culture, and communities – pretty much everything we do is attached to music,” says Jeff Place, the Curator and Senior Archivist at Smithsonian Folkways, who produced the collection along with the label’s Director Huib Schippers. “Every celebration has music, from birthdays to bar mitzvahs. There’s sacred music that goes along with people’s beliefs. Certainly in social justice movements, people have found the power of music. There’s even work songs, where people use music to coordinate their work. When you look at the civil rights movement, that’s what cemented people together. As they were marching, they were singing songs. This project is all about people using music as a community, together, for a purpose.”

Brought together on these four discs is music from labels that Smithsonian Folkways has acquired over the years, including Arhoolie, which documented the music of social gatherings throughout the US, and Paredon, which released activist music from around the world, as well UNESCO and Monitor, which documented folk traditions across the entire globe.   Civil rights legend Fannie Lou Hamer, a woman who shook the halls of power, leading a congregation in song with her mind “set on freedom.”  Lebanese musician Marcel Khalife’s quavering voice singing the Palestinian poem “The Passport” about being required to carry a passport in your native land.  Country Joe McDonald’s acerbic Vietnam anti-war song “I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ To Die”.  Hymns of the Old Regular Baptists of Kentucky, the rhythmic call-and-response from African-American railroad worker songs, the blend of high-pitched charango and vocals from Latin American protest singer Suni Paz.

The Social Power of Music is set to remind us of the universality of these moments, showing that through music we are united.

Track Listing

We Shall Overcome The Freedom Singers 2:09
102 This Land is Your Land Woody Guthrie 2:48
103 De colores ([Made] of Colors) Baldemar Velásquez, Aguila Negra 3:02
104 Union Maid Bobbie McGee 2:13
105 If I Had a Hammer Pete Seeger 1:54
106 Reclaim the Night Peggy Seeger 4:33
107 Estoy aquí (I Am Here) Quetzal 5:21
108 Deportees (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos) Sammy Walker 4:57
109 We Are the Children Chris Kando Iijima, Joanne Nobuko Miyamoto, Charlie Chin 2:55
110 I Woke Up This Morning Fannie Lou Hamer 2:36
111 I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Country Joe McDonald 2:59
112 El pobre sigue sufriendo (The Poor Keep On Suffering) Andrés Jiménez 3:26
113 Ballad of the ERA Kristin Lems 4:11
114 Where Have All the Flowers Gone? Pete Seeger 2:06
115 Blowing in the Wind The New World Singers 2:32
116 Quihubo raza (What’s Happening, People) Agustín Lira and Alma 3:50
117 Solidarity Forever Jim Jackson 2:30
118 Joe Hill Paul Robeson 3:00
119 Joaquin Murrieta Rumel Fuentes 3:35
120 Which Side Are You On? The Almanac Singers 2:10
121 Legal/Illegal Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger 4:12
122 It Isn’t Nice Barbara Dane, The Chambers Brothers 4:05
201 Amazing Grace The Old Regular Baptists 2:44
202 Come By Here Barbara Dane, The Chambers Brothers 5:33
203 Will the Circle Be Unbroken The Strange Creek Singers 3:38
204 Peace in the Valley The Paramount Singers 3:50
205 Many Eagle Set Sun Dance Song The Pembina Chippewa Singers 2:11
206 Zuni Rain Dance Members of Zuni Pueblo 4:41
207 Calvary Shape-note singers at Stewart’s Chapel 1:27
208 Northfield The Old Harp Singers of Eastern Tennessee 1:58
209 The Call to Prayer / Adhān Ahmad Al Alawi 2:10
210 Zikr (excerpt) Sheikh Xhemail Shehu, members of the Prizren Rifa’i tekke 2:45
211 Buddhist Chants and Prayers Tu Huyen, Hai Phat, Tam Thu, Hai Dat 4:34
212 Kol Nidre Cantor Abraham Brun 5:05
213 Dayeinu Raasche, Alan Mills 1:47
214 Night Chant Sandoval Begay 2:12
215 Hark, Hark Carolers from the Black Bull, Ecclesfield, UK 3:11
216 Swing Low, Sweet Chariot The Princely Players 2:47
217 The Old Rugged Cross The Paschall Brothers 5:17
218 Madre de Dolores (Mother of Sorrows) Hermanos de la Morada de Nuestra Señora de Dolores del Alto 2:56
219 San Miguel (Saint Michael) Francia Reyes 4:11
220 I’ll Fly Away Rose Maddox 2:32
301 Party Down at the Blue Angel Club Clifton Chenier and His Red Hot Louisiana Band 4:51
302 San Antonio Rose Los Reyes de Albuquerque 2:38
303 Jolie blonde (Pretty Blonde) Austin Pitre 2:47
304 Shake Your Moneymaker John Littlejohn 4:19
305 Beer-Drinking Polka Flaco Jiménez, Max Baca 2:25
306 In Heaven There Is No Beer The Goose Island Ramblers 2:32
307 SAM (Get Down) Sam Brothers Five 4:10
308 Golden Slippers / The Butterfly Whirl Lester Bradley and Friends 4:31
309 Sligo Indians / Paddy Clancy’s / Larry Redican’s / The Rambling Pitchfork Tony DeMarco 4:21
310 La entrega de los novios (The Delivery of the Newlyweds) Lorenzo Martínez 3:46
311 Rock Dance Song (Cree/Metis) The Pembina Chippewa Singers 2:20
312 Pow Wow Song Chippewa Nation 2:52
313 Mary Mack Lilly’s Chapel School, Alabama 1:58
314 Johnny Cuckoo Janie Hunter and children at home 1:15
315 Rooster Call John Henry Mealing and group 4:00
316 Joy to the World Elizabeth Mitchell 3:06
317 Oylupnuv Obrutch (The Broken Hoop Song) The Golden Gate Gypsy Orchestra 2:01
318 Liberty Funeral March The Liberty Brass Band 4:51
319 Junkanoos #1 Key West Junkanoo Band 3:07
320 The Star Spangled Banner Unknown orchestra 1:16
321 Mardi Gras Medley (excerpt) ReBirth Jazz Band 4:33
401 Viva la Quince Brigada (Long Live the 15th Brigade) Pete Seeger 3:04
402 Bella ciao (Goodbye Beautiful) Singers of the “Bella Ciao” production of Spoleto 1:35
403 A desalambrar (Tear Down the Fences) Expresión Joven 5:07
404 Muato mua N’Gola (Women of Angola) Lilly Tchiumba 2:34
405 Un gigante que despierta (An Awakening Giant) Luis Godoy, Grupo Mancotal 4:03
406 Hasret (Longing) Melike Demirag 3:10
407 Prisioneros somos (We Are All Prisoners) Suni Paz 2:19
408 Funeral do lavrador (Funeral of a Worker) Zelia Barbosa 1:59
409 Izakunyatheli Afrika Verwoerd (Africa is Going to Trample on You, Verwoerd) South African refugees in Tanganyika 1:52
410 The Boy with the Sunlit Smile Mikis Theodorakis 2:48
411 Hidup di Bui (Life in Jail) Gambang Kromong Slendang Betawi, Kwi Ap 5:34
412 Man and Buffalo (Kon Gap Kwai) Caravan 3:40
413 Why Need We Cry? Cantor Abraham Brun 2:32
414 El palomo (The Dove) Grupo Raíz 4:06
415 Hvem sidder dér bag skærmen (The Roadmaker) Inger Nielsen 3:08
416 Mon’ etu ua Kassule Musician supporters of the MPLA 5:35
417 Le temps des cerises (Cherry Blossom Time) Yves Montand 4:37
418 Chongsun Arirang Singer from Central Korea 4:03
419 The Passport Marcel Khalifé 9:23
420 Inno della Resistenza (Hymn of the Resistance) Choir of FLN fighters 1:28


New folk boxed set


(Visited 215 times, 1 visits today)

Author: Rob Dickens

Share This Post On
468 ad

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: