Belmont University and The Freedom Forum will present Freedom Sings, a free public concert celebrating the First Amendment with award-winning artists such as Bill Lloyd and Don Henry performing “music they didn’t want you to hear” and “music with a message,” on Tue., October 4, at 7 p.m. in the Massey Performing Arts Center. The concert is sponsored by The Tennessean and Belmont’s New Century Journalism Program.
Well-known songs like “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “Good Rockin’ Tonight” and “Puff, the Magic Dragon” all have something in common – they each are among hundreds of American popular songs that have been challenged or suppressed because of controversy over their content. These and other songs that have shaped the nation are performed as part of Freedom Sings, a live multi-media performance celebrating freedom of expression in America.
Using musical performance, film, photographs and narration, the critically acclaimed 90-minute program tells the story of almost three centuries of banned or censored music in America, inviting the audience to take a fresh look at the First Amendment and the impact of freedom of speech.
Freedom Sings is a national program of the First Amendment Center that began with a 1999 concert at Nashville’s renowned Bluebird Café. The program began touring college campuses nationwide in 2000. Past performances include major journalism association conferences, the Bottom Line in New York, public radio’s weekly E-Town and the annual conferences of groups such as Folk Alliance, the Americana Music Association and the National Association of Broadcasters. The show has also been featured on the weekly Close-Up on C-SPAN program.
The show has been described as “a must-see for fans of popular music and the First Amendment.” The songwriters, performers and narrator entertain while informing audiences about the dangers of censorship, chilling effects in the marketplace and self-censorship by artists.
Admission to the concert is free and the general public is invited. For more information, call Sybril Bennett, director of the New Century Journalism Program, at 615-460-6383.
Freedom Sings features an all-star cast of Nashville musicians including: Bill Lloyd (of the popular duo Foster and Lloyd), acclaimed singer Jonell Mosser, whose voice is heard in recordings and movies ranging from Hope Floats to Boys on the Side, Grammy Award winner Don Henry (“Where’ve You Been” recorded by Kathy Mattea) along with powerhouse vocalist and actress Shonka Dukureh. Completing the line up is singer/songwriter Jason White, the author of Tim McGraw’s hit, “Red Ragtop,” and keyboardist John Deaderick from the Dixie Chicks’ band.
Freedom Sings reminds Americans that free speech and free expression are part of the American heritage – and that the First Amendment protects the right to ‘speak’ in art, music, film and dance as well as the spoken or written word,” said Gene Policinski, executive director of the First Amendment Center and co-narrator of Freedom Sings.
The First Amendment Center works to preserve and protect First Amendment freedoms through information and education. The center serves as a forum for the study and exploration of free-expression issues, including freedom of speech, of the press and of religion, the right to assemble and the right to petition the government. With offices in Nashville, Tenn., and Arlington, Va., the First Amendment Center is an operating program of the Freedom Forum and is associated with the Newseum – the world’s only interactive museum of news.