CNN’s new series Soundtracks: Songs That Defined History kicks off tonight by examining the music behind the Civil Rights Movement following Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination.
The series, executive produced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Dany Garcia, will explore the music behind key moments in history over eight hour-long episodes.
The journey begins with The Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and looks at the key music which propelled the Civil Rights Movement following his death.
The episode features intense footage, and starts with activist Reverend Al Sharpton sharing his personal and powerful stories of how he learned of King’s assassination, and how the news was transmitted.
We then look at how black rage was captured in song by jazz great Nina Simone — including her soulful “Why”, a tribute to the civil rights leader.
Her songs revealed the frustration of the African American community.
A poignant couplet from her banned Mississippi Goddam: “Lord have mercy on this land of mine. We all gonna get it in due time. I don’t belong here, I don’t belong there…I’ve even stopped believing in prayer.”
Musician David Crosby and Peter Yarrow are also interviewed, as Yarrow does an acoustic version of civil rights anthem We Shall Overcome.
He talks about how lynchings were commonplace, as Dan Rather recollects crimes committed against African Americans. The news footage is difficult to watch.
The Freedom Singers are shown in concert and one of the members, Charles Neblett, seen in footage as a young man, is interviewed and talks about his experiences.
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