- New Georgia Encyclopedia
- Freedom Singers
- Hatfield, Edward A.
- Date of Original:
- Freedom Singers (Musical group : Albany, Ga.)
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (U.S.)
Albany Movement (Albany, Ga.)
Civil rights--United States
African Americans--Civil rights
African Americans--Civil rights--Georgia
Georgia--Race relations--History--20th century
United States--Race relations--History--20th century
African Americans--Songs and music
African American singers--Georgia
Vocal groups--United States
Civil rights movements--Georgia
Civil rights movements--United States
Civil rights workers--Georgia
Civil rights workers--United States
African American civil rights workers
African American civil rights workers--Georgia
Civil rights demonstrations--Georgia
Civil rights demonstrations--United States
March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Washington, D.C., 1963
African American political activists--Georgia
African Americans--Political activity
Political participation--United States
Fund raising--United States
Georgia--Politics and government--20th century
Social change--United States
Protest songs--United States
Religion and politics--United States
Spirituals (Songs)--United States
Hymns, English--Southern States
Sweet Honey in the Rock (Musical group)
Albany Civil Rights Movement Museum Freedom Singers
- Harris, Rutha Mae
Reagon, Bernice Johnson, 1942-
Reagon, Cordell Hull, 1943-1996
Neblett, Charles Delbert, 1941-
- United States, Georgia, Dougherty County, Albany, 31.57851, -84.15574
- Encyclopedia article about the Freedom Singers from Albany, Georgia, who performed during the early 1960s throughout the country to raise funds for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and to inform audiences about the grassroots organizing campaigns expanding in communities across the South.
Southern civil rights protest was commonly accompanied by the music of the black choral tradition, perhaps because it originated in the black church where congregational singing had traditionally formed an essential part of worship. Most freedom songs were common hymns or spirituals familiar to the southern black community; the lyrics were often modified to reflect the political aims of the civil rights movement. The Freedom Singers formed in December 1962 under the leadership of SNCC field secretary Cordell Reagon, a veteran of the sit-in movement in Nashville, Tennessee, where music played a similarly important role. With the help of Albany natives Rutha Mae Harris and Bernice Johnson, whom he later married, and Charles Neblett, a veteran of civil rights demonstrations in Cairo, Illinois who was recruited by Reagon for the group, the four performers left Albany to tour the country in support of civil rights and the goals of SNCC. Over the next nine months, the group traveled 50,000 miles through forty states in a Buick station wagon, playing at colleges, elementary and high schools, concert halls, living rooms, jails, political rallies, and the March on Washington in August 1963. Although the original Freedom Singers disbanded after recording an album in 1963, later incarnations continued to perform under the same name. Bernice Johnson Reagon later enjoyed success as a founding member of Atlanta's Harambee Singers and as the organizer and founder of the critically acclaimed singing group Sweet Honey in the Rock. In 1995 Rutha Mae Harris formed the Albany Civil Rights Museum Freedom Singers, who perform once a month at the museum.
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GSE identifier: SS8H11
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- Forms part of the New Georgia Encyclopedia.
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- New Georgia Encyclopedia (Project)