Anthem: Social Movements and the Sound of Solidarity in the African Diaspora

Anthem: Social Movements and the Sound of Solidarity in the African Diaspora

Anthem: Social Movements and the Sound of Solidarity in the African Diaspora

Anthem: Social Movements and the Sound of Solidarity in the African Diaspora

Synopsis

For people of African descent, music constitutes a unique domain of expression. From traditional West African drumming to South African kwaito, from spirituals to hip-hop, Black life and history has been dynamically displayed and contested through sound. Shana Redmond excavates the sonic histories of these communities through a genre emblematic of Black solidarity and citizenship: anthems. An interdisciplinary cultural history,nbsp;Anthemnbsp;reveals how this "sound franchise" contributed to the growth and mobilization of the modern, Black citizen. Providing new political frames and aesthetic articulations for protest organizations and activist-musicians, Redmond reveals the anthem as a crucial musical form following World War I. nbsp; nbsp; Beginning with the premise that an analysis of the composition, performance, and uses of Black anthems allows for a more complex reading of racial and political formations within the twentieth century, Redmond expands our understanding of how and why diaspora was a formative conceptual and political framework of modern Black identity. By tracing key compositions and performances around the world- from James Weldon Johnson's "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing" that mobilized the NAACP to Nina Simone's "To Be Young, Gifted & Black" which became the Black National Anthem of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)- Anthemnbsp;develops a robust recording of Black social movements in the twentieth century that will forever alter the way you hear race and nation. nbsp; Shana L. Redmondnbsp;is Assistant Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. She is a former musician and labor organizer.

Excerpt

Get them to sing your songs and they’ll want to know who
you are.

—Paul Robeson

Music is a method. Beyond its many pleasures, music allows us to do and imagine things that may otherwise be unimaginable or seem impossible. It is more than sound; it is a complex system of mean(ing)s and ends that mediate our relationships to one another, to space, to our histories and historical moment. The movement of music—not simply in response to its rhythms but toward collective action and new political modalities—is the central exposition of Anthem. Within the African diaspora, music functions as a method of rebellion, revolution, and future visions that disrupt and challenge the manufactured differences used to dismiss, detain, and destroy communities. The anthems developed and deployed by these communities served as articulations of defense and were so powerful that they took flight and were adopted by others. Marginalized groups around the world have taken advantage of the special alchemy that musical production demands, including the language, organized noise, and performance practices that represent, define, and instruct the performers and receivers of these musics. The statement by Paul Robeson used here as epigraph acknowledges these processes by situating music as a meaning-making endeavor, one that is strategically employed to develop identification between people who otherwise may be culturally, ideologically, or spatially separate or . . .

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