USA: Multi-media show about dangers of censorship



Multi-media show about dangers of censorship

‘Freedom Sings’ is a critically acclaimed multi-media presentation which tells the story of almost three centuries of banned or censored music in America

Well-known songs like ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’ ‘Good Rockin’ Tonight’ and ‘Puff, the Magic Dragon’ all have something in common: They each are among hundreds of American popular songs that have been challenged or suppressed because of controversy over their content. These and other songs that have shaped the nation are performed as part of a live multi-media performance celebrating freedom of expression in America, entitled ‘Freedom Sings’.
Using musical performance, film, video, graphics, photographs and narration, the critically acclaimed 90-minute show tells the story of almost three centuries of banned or censored music in America – “the music they didn’t want you to hear” – inviting the audience to take a fresh look at the First Amendment and the impact of freedom of speech. (The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is part of the United States Bill of Rights which prevents the U.S. Congress from infringing on the freedom of speech, and the freedom of the press.)
The songwriters, performers and narrators entertain while informing the audience about the dangers of censorship, chilling effects in the marketplace and self-censorship by artists.

Touring USA
Since its 1999 debut concert at Nashville’s renowned Bluebird Café, the show has been touring America’s college campuses and appeared at conferences, public festivals and other events. For instance, the 2004 tour included stops in Kentucky, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Mississippi, and Tennessee, whereas the 2003 tour had performances in New York, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Louisiana, Tennessee, Alabama, Michigan, South Dakota, Virginia, Arkansas, California and Texas.
‘Freedom Sings’ was created and written by Ken Paulson, former First Amendment Center executive director, since April 2004 the editor of the newspaper USA Today.
‘Freedom Sings’ band members rotate from show to show. Performers include several Grammy Award-winning musicians, such as the song-writers Craig Krampf and Don Henry. Singer Jonell Mosser has performed with such talents as Ringo Starr and B.B. King, and Jason White is the musician who wrote Tim McGraw’s current hit, “Red Ragtop” which was banned by radio stations in San Antonio, Texas, because it implied abortion

American heritage of free speech
“ ‘Freedom Sings’ reminds Americans that free speech and free expression are part of the American heritage – and that the First Amendment protects the right to ‘speak’ in art, music, film and dance as well as the spoken or written word,” says co-narrator Gene Policinski who is also the executive director of the First Amendment Center which promotes and fascilitates the show.
The First Amendment Center works to preserve and protect First Amendment freedoms through information and education, and as a forum for the study and exploration of free-expression issues.


First Amendment Center – articles about ‘Freedom Sing’, photos, and more:

‘About Freedom Sings’

Star-Gazette – 9 October 2005:

‘An important American chorus: Let freedom sing’

Google News – continously updated:

Search: ‘Freedom sings’

Click to enlarge
Photo by Clinton Firstbrook

Examples of American music censorship cases

Eric Nuzum: Parental Advisory – Music Censorship In America
Censorship Incidents – arranged by timeline


DN Online, 21 October, 2005  
‘Panel focuses on censorship of music lyrics’

Counter Think / NewsTarget Network:
‘Censorship of popular music under discussion at Ball State’

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