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Liberation Music and the Underground Railroad

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Song lyrics are an easy and global way to let people know what is going on. ... for your own country, each song has powerful lyrics that give listeners a strong ...

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Presentation Transcript

Liberation Music

and the

Underground Railroad

By: Kaileigh Sheffer


Music Is A Call For Change

It is said that music is somewhat like a revolution. If enough people listen to the message behind the music, and decide that changes need to take place, there will most likely be a difference made.

Music asks us these questions:

Who are these songs directed towards?

What message are they portraying?

Should we listen?

Music tells the truth, no matter how harsh it may be. Lyrics help people realize what is happening around them. Music grabs people’s attention, sometimes better than spoken words.

Music is…

  • Passionate
  • Expressive
  • Emotional
  • Unifying
  • A “snapshot in time”
music in different time periods
Music In Different Time Periods
  • Songs usually reflect upon the time in which they were written and composed.
  • Many of the songs written during the time of the Underground Railroad have to do with the political, cultural, and social issues of that time.
  • Song lyrics are an easy and global way to let people know what is going on.
  • Most music, no matter what time period they were written in, call for some type of change.
liberation music then
Liberation Music: Then
  • Many of the songs written during the time of the Underground Railroad were called spirituals.
  • These songs were originally expressions of religious faith, and many held secret meanings for only the enslaved African Americans to understand.
  • The song I chose to represent the music of the past is called The Gospel Train.
the gospel train
The Gospel Train
  • This song was a spiritual written during the time of the Underground Railroad.
  • “The Gospel Train” quickly became a code name for the Underground Railroad.
  • When slaves heard this song being sung, they knew that either a conductor was among them, or that fleeing slaves were close by, along with an opportunity to escape.


The Gospel train's comin'I hear it just at handI hear the car wheel rumblin'And rollin' thro' the land

Get on board little childrenGet on board little childrenGet on board little childrenThere's room for many more

I hear the train a-comin'She's comin' round the curveShe's loosened all her steam and brakesAnd strainin' ev'ry nerve

The fare is cheap and all can goThe rich and poor are thereNo second class aboard this trainNo difference in the fare

liberation music now
Liberation Music: Now
  • Artists continue to write liberation music today.
  • Although most having nothing to do with the Underground Railroad, many current songs have to do with freedom from oppression of any type.
  • The modern liberation song I enjoy the most is called Zimbabwe.
  • Zimbabwe was written by Bob Marley in 1979.
  • Marley wrote the song in order to support the freedom fighters in Rhodesia, which was a British colony until 1980. During the independence celebrations in present-day Harare, Marley was invited to play at the ceremony.
  • Marley’s song later became the unofficial anthem of Zimbabwe.

Every man gotta right to decide his own destiny,And in this judgement there is no partiality.So arm in arms, with arms, we'll fight this little struggle,'Cause that's the only way we can overcome our little trouble.Brother, you're right, you're right,You're right, you're right, you're so right!We gon' fight (we gon' fight), we'll have to fight (we gon' fight),We gonna fight (we gon' fight), fight for our rights!Natty Dread it in-a (Zimbabwe);Set it up in (Zimbabwe);Mash it up-a in-a Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe);Africans a-liberate (Zimbabwe), yeah.No more internal power struggle;We come together to overcome the little trouble.Soon we'll find out who is the real revolutionary,'Cause I don't want my people to be contrary.To divide and rule could only tear us apart;In everyman chest, mm - there beats a heart.So soon we'll find out who is the real revolutionaries;And I don't want my people to be tricked by mercenaries.


how are these songs related
How Are These Songs Related?
  • Although the lyrics are quite different, the artists are very different, and the tone of each song is different, they are both spelling out the same message.
  • This is that there are serious problems, and wherever or whenever they may be, something needs to be done to change them.
  • Whether it be fighting for freedom from slavery or fighting for your own country, each song has powerful lyrics that give listeners a strong message of hope.
how i grew
How I Grew
  • Not only did I learn more about the Underground Railroad itself, I felt like I was able to connect more with the enslaved. By listening to the spiritual, I realized that the African Americans thrived on these messages of hope.
  • I’ve always loved Bob Marley, but really reading his lyrics to Zimbabwe and learning the history behind them made me realize that there are freedom fighters everywhere, and that their voices need to be heard.
  • Music is such a powerful tool. It can be used to express joy, anger, rage, sadness, hope, courage, and thousands more emotions.