Gene Stevens Plays Songs of Freedom and Civil Rights

Aug 20, 2020

By Valerie Massie

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It’s been said we’re suffering from two pandemics this summer – Covid-19 and racism. The virus may be new, but racism – sadly – is nothing new.  Several specific events have focused our attention this summer. The grotesque murder of George Floyd – filmed for the world to witness – sparked a summer of protests; intensified by a spate of other murders, beatings and violence.  This summer included a higher awareness of  ‘Juneteenth’ – celebrating the formal end of American slavery when Union troops finally arrived in Galveston Texas on June 19th 1865, to announce President Lincoln’s historic Emancipation Proclamation made two and a half years earlier – thus freeing the last enclave of slavery in the US.

And August 1st was ‘Emancipation Day’ – marking the anniversary of the 1834 abolition of slavery in the British Empire, including of course Canada. Earlier this month, Toronto’s Mayor John Tory announced the city would mark the entire month of August as Emancipation Month.
August 28th also marks the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic speech (‘I Have a Dream‘) at the 1963 March on Washington – there will be another such march on that same day this year. I am inspired to present ‘Songs of Freedom and Civil Rights‘ on a special edition of ‘Vintage Favourites’ this Sunday – the 23rd.  I invite you to join me to listen to some of history’s most stirring, inspiring and devastatingly candid songs – from Billie Holiday and Nina Simone, to Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and James Brown – with Canadians like Dan Hill and Bruce Cockburn as well.
I’ll start the show – as we do each week – with an hour dedicated to ‘This Week in Zoomer Music‘ with highlights including The Beatles’ first performance in Hamburg, and the Tragically Hip’s final performance with Gord Downie in Kingston. Plus: the centennial of the jukebox, and the most-played jukebox songs of all time; the Moog Synthesizer and remembering the iconic rock’n’roll composer Jerry Leiber.  This will be a busy program, and I hope you don’t miss it – this Sunday from 1:00 to 4:30.
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