Let Freedom Sing: The Music of the Civil Rights Movement

TimeLife, 3 CDs, $44.98

 Spanning 70 years of soulful sounds driving (and growing out of) the struggle for African-American equality, these 58 tunes include the self-evident (Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit,” the Weavers’ “If I Had a Hammer,” Aretha Franklin’s “Respect,” James Brown’s “Say It Loud—I’m Black and I’m Proud,” Sly & The Family Stone’s “Stand”) and the lesser-known (Brownie McGhee’s “Black, Brown, and White,” The Harmonizing Four’s “I Shall Not Be Moved,” Nat King Cole’s “We Are Americans Too,” Swamp Dogg’s “I Was Born Blue,” the Chi-Lites’ “Give More Power to the People”). The 40-page booklet lets Public Enemy’s Chuck D and co-producer/ music historian Colin Escott place the music in rich historical context.

This Is My America

Hutton Music, 3 CDs, $49.95. Available only at www.thisismyamerica.com or 1-800-630-7840

Led by veteran TV/music producer Douglas Hutton, 56 of Nashville’s finest, including Beth Nielsen Chapman, Kathy Mattea, Mark O’Connor, Dolly Parton and Charlie Pride, re-create American history via 38 songs and 26 spoken narratives. The chronological sweep is episodic but panoramic: Indians, immigrants, Elvis Presley and glass ceilings coexist with Founding Fathers, cowboys, coal miners, trains, the Mississippi and World War II. A 24-page booklet and replica of the Declaration of Independence complete the package.


Originally published in the June 2009 issue of American History. To subscribe, click here