The Freedom Singers (60's civil rights (SNCC) choir)

~ Group


Started to raise money for the civil rights organization Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

Annotation last modified on 2008-03-11 00:40 UTC.


The Freedom Singers are a group that formed in 1962 in Albany, Georgia, to educate communities about civil rights issues through song.

The group originally consisted of four black members all under the age of 21: Cordell Reagon (tenor), Bernice Johnson Reagon (alto), Charles Neblett (bass), and Rutha Mae Harris (soprano). They were joined in 1965 by a young, white guitarist named Bill Perlman, whose parents were SNCC field secretaries in NYC. At the age of 17, Bill got into a station wagon and travelled through the deep south with the band for two years. He continues to perform with the Freedom Singers, appearing in venues all over the world. He lives in Ashfield. MA, where he remained dedicated to local politics and social justice. His wife Patricia is a teacher and actress, and together they have three children; Deirdre, Philippe and Michelle. A number of other people have performed with the Freedom Singers at concerts and movement events in the 1960s through today, including Bertha Gober, Emory Harris, Marshall Jones, and Matthew Jones. The Freedom Singers toured the South, sometimes performing as many as four concerts a day. The songs were mostly spirituals and hymns, with "characteristic call-and-response" and free improvisation. Venues included around 200 college campuses, churches, house parties, demonstrations, marches, and jails. Often, the Freedom Singers were jailed for refusing to leave an area, while supporters and sympathizers also risked police brutality.

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Album + Compilation

Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1963 Broadside Ballads, Volume 1 Various Artists 3
1990 Sing for Freedom: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement Through Its Songs Various Artists 1
1991 Folk Song America: A 20th Century Revival III Various Artists 1
1994 Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Songs of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement Various Artists 1
1994 Kwanzaa Music Various Artists 1
1995 Gospel at Newport 1959/63-66 Various Artists 1
1996 Smithsonian Folkways: American Roots Collection Various Artists 1
1996 Crossroads: Southern Routes Various Artists 1
1997 Voices of the Civil Rights Movement Various Artists 1
1998 Geschichte der Pop Musik Various Artists 1
2000 The Best of Broadside 1962-1988 Various Artists 1
2001 American Roots Music Various Artists 1
2002 Freedom: Songs From the Heart of America Various Artists 1

Album + Compilation + Spokenword

Year Title Artist RatingReleases
2001 Every Tone a Testimony: An African American Aural History Various Artists 1

Album + Live

Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1964 Newport Broadside Various Artists 1
1991 The Newport Folk Festival - 1963: The Evening Concerts, Volume 1 Various Artists 1
1991 World Music of Struggle: We Shall Overcome Various Artists 1
The Best of the Newport Folk Festivals Various Artists 1

Album + Soundtrack

Year Title Artist RatingReleases
Freedom: A History of US Various Artists 1

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