Singing Social Activists
By SunbonnetSmart.com on March 02, 2013
You have to understand. I grew up in the 1950s and 60s. Activism was a part of my childhood, like Dora the Explorer instructs children today.
Radio and TV stations were independently owned and played whatever suited their style. And, what caught on and suited many AM styles were songs of social betterment. Rather than singing kiddie songs to sell congruently marketed toys and brands, we children got behind spreading the word, the call to action. So, at camp we sang, "If I Had a Hammer" and "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?," moving folk songs about making the world a better place. We raised our voices up as well as eight to ten year year olds possibly can, hoping to convince people improvements needed to be made.
In the dawn of the 1950s, change began at a rapid pace.
While most people connect protests and activist language with the 1960s and 70s, such inspirations actually began in the 1950s, in many ways due to singer songwriter Woody Guthrie early on and then Pete Seeger. The magazine, "Sing Out!," first begun in 1950, records its own history along with that of the folk song, activist movements. The magazine stills prides itself on "serving the common cause of humanity” and celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 2000.
Pete Seeger's "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?"
I remember a boy in my fourth grade class, named Tom Sawyer and yes, that was his real name. He was going to play his guitar on WWDC radio and sing along. What an incredibly big deal this was as we were encouraged by our teacher to listen when Tom was going to be on the radio live. He sang a song with a haunting beauty and powerful refrain, called, "Blowing in the Wind." The wind that was blowing affected all age groups, some individuals swaying with it and some offering resistance, but every person was affected.
Priscilla Judd sings to protect our environment and its people.
I miss activist folk songs. Clever songwriters tipping us off to inequities that might otherwise go unnoticed. It doesn't seem these songs are played on the radio much anymore. The music we hear today seems canned, repetitive and market driven. I guess that's why finding Canadian singing activist Priscilla Judd on Twitter, then following up on her web site, was such a breath of fresh air. Thankfully, the Internet still pulses with musical activism. Music is the spoonful of sugar that promotes the medicine of social change.
Tomorrow: Canada's Priscilla Judd, Singing Activist
Spoiler Alert! Canadian singer, Priscilla Judd is in a contest and would love some help to win!