Smithsonian Folkways Celebrates “The Social Power of Music” In New Box Set

On February 22,  2019 Smithsonian Folkways Recordings will release The Social Power of Music, a new box set that examines the roles of music in our lives from many angles and through many voices.  Over four CDs, 80+ tracks and an illustrated 124-page booklet, The Social Power of Music presents some of the most powerful moments in Smithsonian Folkways’ vast and ever-expanding catalog, putting them in conversation with each other to highlight the ways song has shaped the societies we live in

The Social Power of Music looks at this music through four different perspectives.  Disc 1: Songs of Struggle channels the visceral power of the fight for civil rights, featuring household names from Folkways’ archives including Woody GuthrieThe Freedom Singers and Pete Seeger, and songs that defined a generation.  Disc 2: Sacred Sounds presents music from many religions and spiritual practices, in some cases drawing from rarely heard or known ceremonies.  Disc 3: Social Songs and Gatherings shows how we use music to come together, often in celebration.  Disc 4: Global Movements looks to the use of roots music in key political movements around the world, tapping into anti-fascist verses, odes to the working class, and polemics against governmental corruption and violence.

The box set, and the idea of music’s centrality to the way people connect to one another, inspired the upcoming Smithsonian Year of Music, which presents music and sound events in Washington, DC and around the country every day throughout 2019.  The series will kick off with a listening party for the compilation on January 2, 2019 at Songbyrd Record Café and Music House in Washington DC.  “The Social Power of Music” will also be the animating theme of the 2019 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which takes place annually on the National Mall.

Listen to a sampler from the box set here:

The massive scope and virtuosic assembling of this box set may reflect the original vision of Smithsonian Folkways to record and document the entire world.  Songs that rang true in the 1960’s, railing against the plight of women, minorities and human rights, are just as poignant over fifty years later, as the world has begun to roll back much of what was gained by the global civil rights movements. There’s a visceral power, a frisson, in hearing how the lyrics in The Social Power of Music reverberate across generations and cultures.  The hope for the artists making this music at the time, for us listening now, and for those writing new songs inspired by this music, is the same as it ever was: to show us the paths to make a better world.

Brought together on these four discs is music from labels that Smithsonian Folkways has acquired over the years, including Arhoolie, which documented the music of social gatherings throughout the US, and Paredon, which released activist music from around the world, as well UNESCO and Monitor, which documented folk traditions across the entire globe.   Civil rights legend Fannie Lou Hamer, a woman who shook the halls of power, leading a congregation in song with her mind “set on freedom.”  Lebanese musician Marcel Khalife’s quavering voice singing the Palestinian poem “The Passport” about being required to carry a passport in your native land.  Country Joe McDonald’s acerbic Vietnam anti-war song “I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ To Die”.  Hymns of the Old Regular Baptists of Kentucky, the rhythmic call-and-response from African-American railroad worker songs, the blend of high-pitched charango and vocals from Latin American protest singer Suni Paz.

The Social Power of Music is set to remind us of the universality of these moments, showing that through music we are united.

Track Listing

We Shall OvercomeThe Freedom Singers2:09
102This Land is Your LandWoody Guthrie2:48
103De colores ([Made] of Colors)Baldemar Velásquez, Aguila Negra3:02
104Union MaidBobbie McGee2:13
105If I Had a HammerPete Seeger1:54
106Reclaim the NightPeggy Seeger4:33
107Estoy aquí (I Am Here)Quetzal5:21
108Deportees (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)Sammy Walker4:57
109We Are the ChildrenChris Kando Iijima, Joanne Nobuko Miyamoto, Charlie Chin2:55
110I Woke Up This MorningFannie Lou Hamer2:36
111I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to DieCountry Joe McDonald2:59
112El pobre sigue sufriendo (The Poor Keep On Suffering)Andrés Jiménez3:26
113Ballad of the ERAKristin Lems4:11
114Where Have All the Flowers Gone?Pete Seeger2:06
115Blowing in the WindThe New World Singers2:32
116Quihubo raza (What’s Happening, People)Agustín Lira and Alma3:50
117Solidarity ForeverJim Jackson2:30
118Joe HillPaul Robeson3:00
119Joaquin MurrietaRumel Fuentes3:35
120Which Side Are You On?The Almanac Singers2:10
121Legal/IllegalEwan MacColl, Peggy Seeger4:12
122It Isn’t NiceBarbara Dane, The Chambers Brothers4:05
201Amazing GraceThe Old Regular Baptists2:44
202Come By HereBarbara Dane, The Chambers Brothers5:33
203Will the Circle Be UnbrokenThe Strange Creek Singers3:38
204Peace in the ValleyThe Paramount Singers3:50
205Many Eagle Set Sun Dance SongThe Pembina Chippewa Singers2:11
206Zuni Rain DanceMembers of Zuni Pueblo4:41
207CalvaryShape-note singers at Stewart’s Chapel1:27
208NorthfieldThe Old Harp Singers of Eastern Tennessee1:58
209The Call to Prayer / AdhānAhmad Al Alawi2:10
210Zikr (excerpt)Sheikh Xhemail Shehu, members of the Prizren Rifa’i tekke2:45
211Buddhist Chants and PrayersTu Huyen, Hai Phat, Tam Thu, Hai Dat4:34
212Kol NidreCantor Abraham Brun5:05
213DayeinuRaasche, Alan Mills1:47
214Night ChantSandoval Begay2:12
215Hark, HarkCarolers from the Black Bull, Ecclesfield, UK3:11
216Swing Low, Sweet ChariotThe Princely Players2:47
217The Old Rugged CrossThe Paschall Brothers5:17
218Madre de Dolores (Mother of Sorrows)Hermanos de la Morada de Nuestra Señora de Dolores del Alto2:56
219San Miguel (Saint Michael)Francia Reyes4:11
220I’ll Fly AwayRose Maddox2:32
301Party Down at the Blue Angel ClubClifton Chenier and His Red Hot Louisiana Band4:51
302San Antonio RoseLos Reyes de Albuquerque2:38
303Jolie blonde (Pretty Blonde)Austin Pitre2:47
304Shake Your MoneymakerJohn Littlejohn4:19
305Beer-Drinking PolkaFlaco Jiménez, Max Baca2:25
306In Heaven There Is No BeerThe Goose Island Ramblers2:32
307SAM (Get Down)Sam Brothers Five4:10
308Golden Slippers / The Butterfly WhirlLester Bradley and Friends4:31
309Sligo Indians / Paddy Clancy’s / Larry Redican’s / The Rambling PitchforkTony DeMarco4:21
310La entrega de los novios (The Delivery of the Newlyweds)Lorenzo Martínez3:46
311Rock Dance Song (Cree/Metis)The Pembina Chippewa Singers2:20
312Pow Wow SongChippewa Nation2:52
313Mary MackLilly’s Chapel School, Alabama1:58
314Johnny CuckooJanie Hunter and children at home1:15
315Rooster CallJohn Henry Mealing and group4:00
316Joy to the WorldElizabeth Mitchell3:06
317Oylupnuv Obrutch (The Broken Hoop Song)The Golden Gate Gypsy Orchestra2:01
318Liberty Funeral MarchThe Liberty Brass Band4:51
319Junkanoos #1Key West Junkanoo Band3:07
320The Star Spangled BannerUnknown orchestra1:16
321Mardi Gras Medley (excerpt)ReBirth Jazz Band4:33
401Viva la Quince Brigada (Long Live the 15th Brigade)Pete Seeger3:04
402Bella ciao (Goodbye Beautiful)Singers of the “Bella Ciao” production of Spoleto1:35
403A desalambrar (Tear Down the Fences)Expresión Joven5:07
404Muato mua N’Gola (Women of Angola)Lilly Tchiumba2:34
405Un gigante que despierta (An Awakening Giant)Luis Godoy, Grupo Mancotal4:03
406Hasret (Longing)Melike Demirag3:10
407Prisioneros somos (We Are All Prisoners)Suni Paz2:19
408Funeral do lavrador (Funeral of a Worker)Zelia Barbosa1:59
409Izakunyatheli Afrika Verwoerd (Africa is Going to Trample on You, Verwoerd)South African refugees in Tanganyika1:52
410The Boy with the Sunlit SmileMikis Theodorakis2:48
411Hidup di Bui (Life in Jail)Gambang Kromong Slendang Betawi, Kwi Ap5:34
412Man and Buffalo (Kon Gap Kwai)Caravan3:40
413Why Need We Cry?Cantor Abraham Brun2:32
414El palomo (The Dove)Grupo Raíz4:06
415Hvem sidder dér bag skærmen (The Roadmaker)Inger Nielsen3:08
416Mon’ etu ua KassuleMusician supporters of the MPLA5:35
417Le temps des cerises (Cherry Blossom Time)Yves Montand4:37
418Chongsun ArirangSinger from Central Korea4:03
419The PassportMarcel Khalifé9:23
420Inno della Resistenza (Hymn of the Resistance)Choir of FLN fighters1:28