Friday, September 30, 2016

The First Amendment Through Music

Nathan Lors

The Freedom Sings band performed at the Baker Center Theater on Thursday evening. Freedom sings is a critically acclaimed multimedia experience featuring music that has been banned, censored or has sounded a call for social change. Now in their eleventh year of performing all around the country, their performance was thought provoking and encouraged the audience to take a look at the First Amendment from a new perspective.

The performance was led and narrated by Ken Paulson, author and narrator of Freedom Sings. Behind Paulson was a star studded cast of talented musical artists. The artists vary from show to show, however Ohio University hosted some of Freedom Sings most talented members.

The musicians at this particular performance featured Bill Lloyd, Dez Dickerson, Lari White, and Joseph Wooten. Each of these artists had very successful careers in the music industry, with members spanning from Broadway stars to rock and roll hall of fame members.

The importance of the message they send through their music cannot be overstated. Freedom sings takes you on a journey through time with their music, each step of the way showing an inspiring story of how free speech has evolved as a result of brave individuals blowing the whistle against social discrimination in America.

The ensemble played several genres of music including rock, pop, hip-hop and country. The songs were varied but all kept with a central theme of the importance of the freedom of the First Amendment. The band played songs from artists like the Beatles, The Black Eyed Peas, Crosby Stills and Nash, The Kingsmen, Marvin Gaye and many more.

The hand selected songs that the Freedom Sings band performed covered a wide range of social injustices faced by artists in several time periods. The group played songs that illustrated sexism, fought racism, and contested several forms of social inequality.

The music was incredible and kept the crowd captivated for the entire performance, but the message that was conveyed by Paulson and his crew was even more important. Especially with younger audiences such as this one, it is easy to forget where free speech rights came from since many have enjoyed these freedoms all of their lives.

This concert provided a moving reminder of what sacrifices and hardships people went through in our country to provide the rights that each and every citizen enjoy today, all through the power of music.

Using multimedia this was a wonderful way to show how the American government has attempted to censor and intimidate the music that artists produce to conform to what is safe for the public. In turn it then showed how artists took the power back and used their first amendment rights to push the social boundaries of what could be included in music.

These risks that artists took years ago influenced the opportunities and freedoms that artists and all citizens enjoy today in uncensored music.

This performance reminded the audience of a journalist’s most important right, freedom of speech and the press. The first amendment is essential to journalism, and without the bravery and persistence of these musical artists we would not have the rights and liberties that we enjoy today as journalists.

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