African-American Influence

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Although both of the songs performed ("We Shall Overcome" by Joan Baez and "Say It Loud" by James Brown) are meant to convey a message of African American pride, they do so in two very different ways. Joan Baez's performance is very stoic with almost religious undertones while Brown's intentions were for the words to be more exciting. Both artists use interesting forms of audience participation, with Baez speaking the upcoming lyrics to encourage a group feel and Brown using the "I say, you say" approach to drive the tune. To me, "We Shall Overcome" serves as a call for people of color to have faith in the end of persecution. However, "Say It Loud (I'm Black and Proud)" was an unapologetic middle finger to those against equal rights and a statement of "we're here to stay." It's important to understand that powerful figures like Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X, although both advocates for the same result, went about their paths differently. King's message is echoed in Baez's lyrics while Brown's approach was louder, much like Malcom X's (albeit much less violent).…show more content…
But what I've found is that there are many songs that took the momentum from the civil rights era and ran with it. Nina Simone's 1964 song "Mississippi Goddam" (written in response to the murder of civil rights leader Medgar Evers) had such powerful lyrics that it was banned in many Southern states. It warrants mentioning that one of the most pivotal songs credited to uniting those who fought for civil rights was John Coltrane's "Alabama". There was no call to action or chanting; simply a haunting melody (said to mimic the style of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) written and performed in remembrence of a white supremecist attack at a black church that resulted in the death of four young
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