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The Freedom Singers make several appearances in our mix of songs inspired by the civil rights movement -- a collection that ranges from 1963 to the present day. ( Joe Alper)

The Mix: Songs Inspired By The Civil Rights Movement

Jul 9, 2013

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Michele Norris

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The civil rights movement captured the nation's attention in 1963, and musicians proved no exception. The marches, protests and tragedies of 50 years ago influenced some of the greatest artists of the 20th century, including Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Harry Belafonte and Mavis Staples. We've gathered more than 150 songs for a special NPR Music Radio channel that commemorates this important moment in our nation's history. Several of the songs we chose were part of the movement, sung by protestors at rallies, while others were inspired by the events of the era — such as Neil Young songs answered by Lynyrd Skynyrd. The stream includes many genres of music from across the last five decades that draw direct inspiration from that historic year.

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Songs In The Mix

  • Aaron Neville, "Hercules"
  • Anthony Hamilton & The Blind Boys of Alabama, "This May Be the Last Time"
  • Anthony Hamilton, Joss Stone, Blind Boys, Mary Mary, John Legend, "We Shall Overcome"
  • Aretha Franklin, "In The Upper Room"
  • Aretha Franklin, "Mary, Don't You Weep"
  • Aretha Franklin, "Respect"
  • Aretha Franklin, "What A Friend We Have In Jesus"
  • Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers, "The Freedom Rider"
  • B.B. King, "Why I Sing The Blues, Pt. 1"
  • The Beatles, "Blackbird"
  • Bebe Winans, "Lift Every Voice and Sing"
  • Ben Harper, "Like A King"
  • Bernice Johnson, "Been In The Storm So Long"
  • Bertha Gober, "I Told Jesus"
  • Betty Mae Fykes, "If You Miss Me From The Back Of The Bus"
  • Billie Holiday, "Strange Fruit"
  • The Blind Boys of Alabama, "Free At Last"
  • Blue Mitchell, "March on Selma"
  • Bob Dylan, "Blowin' in the Wind"
  • Bob Dylan, "Chimes of Freedom"
  • Bob Dylan, "Maggie's Farm"
  • Bob Dylan, "Only A Pawn in Their Game"
  • Bob Dylan, "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll"
  • Bob Dylan, "The Times They Are a-Changin'"
  • Bob Dylan, "When The Ship Comes In"
  • Bob Marley, "Redemption Song"
  • Bruce Springsteen, "We Are Alive"
  • The Byrds, "Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season)"
  • C.O.R.E. Freedom Singers, "Get Your Rights, Jack"
  • The Carpenter Ants, "Cryin' In The Streets"
  • Charlie Daniels, "The Devil Went Down To Georgia"
  • The Chi-Lites, "(For God's Sake) Give More Power To The People"
  • Chuck Berry, "Promised Land"
  • Chuck D, "The Pride"
  • Clark Terry Quintet, "Serenade To A Bus Seat"
  • Cleo Kennedy, "City Called Heaven"
  • Common featuring, "A Dream"
  • Cordell Reagon, "Uncle Tom's Prayer"
  • DADDY (Will Kimbrough & Tommy Womack), "The Ballad of Martin Luther King"
  • Digital Underground, "No Nose Job"
  • Donny Hathaway, "Someday We'll All Be Free"
  • Donny Hathaway, "Thank You Master (For My Soul)"
  • Donny Hathaway, "Tryin' Times"
  • Donny Hathaway, "To Be Young, Gifted And Black"
  • Emmylou Harris, "My Name Is Emmett Till"
  • Fannie Lou Hammer, "Go Tell It On The Mountain"
  • Gil Scott-Heron, "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"
  • Gospel Dream, "This Little Light of Mine"
  • Grant Green, "The Selma March"
  • Guy Carawan, "We Shall Overcome"
  • Harlem River Drive featuring Eddie Palmieri, "Harlem River Drive"
  • The Harmonizing Four, "I Shall Not Be Moved"
  • Harry Belafonte, "Abraham, Martin and John"
  • Harry Belafonte, "Oh Freedom"
  • The Impressions, "Keep on Pushing"
  • The Impressions, "People Get Ready"
  • The Impressions, "We're A Winner"
  • The Isley Brothers, "Fight The Power"
  • The Isley Brothers, "Get Into Something"
  • J.B. Lenoir, "Alabama Blues"
  • James Brown, "I Don't Want Nobody To Give Me Nothing (Open Up The Door, I'll Get It Myself) Pt. 1"
  • James Brown, "Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud"
  • James Horner & Sweet Honey in the Rock, "Song of Freedom"
  • James Horner & Sweet Honey in the Rock, "Welcome to S.N.C.C."
  • Janis Ian, "Baby, I've Been Thinking"
  • Jimmy Collier & The Movement Singers (led by Diane Smith), "Will The Circle Be Unbroken"
  • Joan Baez, "Oh Freedom"
  • John Coltrane, "Alabama"
  • John Lee Hooker, "The Motor City Is Burning"
  • John Legend, "Woke Up This Morning"
  • John Legend, "If You're Out There"
  • Joss Stone, "Eyes on the Prize"
  • The Jubilee Hummingbirds, "Our Freedom Song"
  • Jungle Brothers, "Black is Back"
  • Les McCann & Eddie Harris, "Compared To What"
  • Lizz Wright, "Walk With Me Lord"
  • Louisiana Red, "Ride On, Ride On"
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd, "Sweet Home Alabama"
  • Mahalia Jackson, "How I Got Over"
  • Mahalia Jackson, "In The Upper Room"
  • Mahalia Jackson, "I Will Move On Up A Little Higher"
  • Mahalia Jackson, "I've Been Buked and I've Been Scorned"
  • Mahalia Jackson, "Take My Hand, Precious Lord"
  • Marian Anderson, "He's Got The Whole World In His Hands"
  • Marshall Jones, Matt Jones, "In The Mississippi River"
  • Marvin Gaye, "Wholy Holy"
  • Marvin Gaye, "Inner City Blues"
  • Marvin Gaye, "Save The Children"
  • Marvin Gaye, "What's Going On"
  • Mary Mary, "We Shall Not Be Moved"
  • Mass Meeting Participants, "Freedom Now Chant"
  • Mass Meeting Participants, "Lord, Hold My Hand While I Run This Race"
  • Mavis Staples, "Down in Mississippi"
  • Mavis Staples, "Eyes on the Prize"
  • Mavis Staples, "We Shall Not Be Moved"
  • Max Roach with Abbey Lincoln, "Triptych: Prayer/Protest/Peace"
  • Neil Young, "Alabama"
  • Neil Young, "Southern Man"
  • The Neville Brothers, "Sister Rosa"
  • Nina Simone, "I Wish I Knew (How It Would Feel To Be Free)"
  • Nina Simone, "Mississippi Goddam"
  • Nina Simone, "Revolution"
  • Nina Simone, "Why? (The King of Love is Dead)"
  • Odetta, "One Grain of Sand"
  • The O'Jays, "Give the People What They Want"
  • Oscar Brown, "Forty Acres & A Mule"
  • Otis Spann, "Blues For Martin Luther King"
  • Parliament, "Chocolate City"
  • Patty Griffin, "Up To The Mountain"
  • Peter, Paul and Mary, "If I Had A Hammer"
  • Paul Simon, "So Beautiful or So What"
  • Pete Seeger, "This Land is Your Land"
  • Phil Ochs, "Too Many Martyrs"
  • The Pointer Sisters, "Yes We Can Can"
  • Public Enemy, "By The Time I Get To Arizona"
  • Public Enemy, "Fight The Power"
  • Rage Against The Machine, "Wake Up"
  • Rahsaan Roland Kirk, "Volunteered Slavery"
  • The Ramparts, "The Death of Emmett Till Pts. 1 & 2"
  • Ramsey Lewis, "Wade In the Water"
  • Ray Scott, "The Prayer"
  • Richie Havens, "Will The Circle Be Unbroken"
  • The Roots, "Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Round"
  • Sam Cooke, "A Change is Gonna Come"
  • Sam Cooke, "This Little Light of Mine"
  • Sly And The Family Stone, "Underdog"
  • SNCC Freedom Singers led by Cordell Reagon, "Ballad of Medgar Evers"
  • SNCC Freedom Singers led by Cordell Reagon, "Dog, Dog"
  • SNCC Freedom Singers led by Cordell Reagon, "Governor Wallace"
  • SNCC Freedom Singers led by Cordell Reagon, "Oginga, Odinga"
  • SNCC Freedom Singers led by Cordell Reagon, "We'll Never Turn Back"
  • SNCC Freedom Singers led by Cordell Reagon, "Which Side Are You On"
  • SNCC Freedom Singers led by Cordell Reagon, "Woke Up This Morning WIth My Mind on Freedom"
  • Solomon Burke, "None of Us Are Free"
  • Sonia Sanchez, "Liberation Poem"
  • Sonny Charles And The Checkmates, "Black Pearl"
  • Sounds of Blackness, "Certainly Lord"
  • Sounds of Blackness, "Optimistic"
  • Sounds of Blackness, "Unity"
  • The Sojourners, "Nobody Can Turn Me Around"
  • The Staple Singers, "Respect Yourself"
  • The Staple Singers, "This Train"
  • The Staple Singers, "Wade In the Water"
  • The Staple Singers, "Why? (Am I Treated So Bad)"
  • The Staples Singers, "I'll Take You There"
  • Steve Forbert, Jack Hardy, Jill Burkee, Mark Dann, "This Land is Your Land"
  • Stevie Wonder, "Living For The City"
  • Sweet Honey In The Rock, "Ella's Song"
  • Sweet Honey In The Rock, "Freedom Train"
  • Syl Johnson, "Is It Because I'm Black?"
  • The Temptations, "Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)"
  • The Temptations, "Message From A Black Man"
  • Three Dog Night, "Black And White"
  • U2, "Pride (In The Name of Love)"
  • Undisputed Truth, "Smiling Faces Sometimes"
  • VIP Mass Choir featuring John P. Kee, "Stand!"
  • Willie Peacock, "Calypso Freedom"
  • Willie Peacock, "Get On Board, Children"
  • Wyclef Jean, "Here's To The State of Mississippi"
  • Wynton Marsalis, "From The Plantation To The Penitentiary"

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