Freemuse report on censorship in post 9/11 USA

Eric Nuzum
’Singing in the Echo Chamber’
Music censorship in the U.S. after September 11

Freemuse, Copenhagen, 2005
ISSN 1601-2127

Soon after the 9/11 attacks, the discussion concerning the long-term impact on free expression and personal privacy became heated and intense.

Musicians have participated (directly and indirectly) in the public discourse, both through word and song. As a result of their outspoken actions, many musicians have experienced strong resistance, sometimes resulting in censorship.

The new Freemuse report Singing in the Echo Chamber written by Eric Nuzum, author of Parental Advisory, documents this chapter of modern American history.

  Read the report

Read the report
Read the report as pdf
Purchase on-line
Read press release
  Eric Nuzum
Eric Nuzum – author of “Singing in the Echo Chamber”.


Report supplement:
‘Is censorship in the “Axis of Good” good?’

Freemuse has asked two renowned scholars cum musicians, Professor Reebee Garofalo and Associate Professor Mark LeVine, some of the complex questions that Eric Nuzum’s report raises.
If censorship in the “Axis of Evil” is evil, does censorship in the “Axis of Good” then spring out of good intentions?

Good and evil censorship?
Read the report supplement as pdf


Professor Rebee Garofalo (left) & Associate Professor Mark Levine.


US Music executive: Artists afraid to speak out

One of Nashville’s leading music executives, Bob Titley, discusses corporate censorship and self censorship in the US.

Watch video interview


Bob Titley


Media coverage

Deutschland Radio (in German language) – 20 February 2006 :
Podcast mp3 file

Blog by Michael Preidel (in German language) – 20 Februar 2006:

‘Singing in the Echo Chamber’



22 February 2006

Since publication, the following errors have been identified in the printed version of the report. We regret their inclusion and have corrected them in the pdf version of the report (which can be downloaded from the link above). We will also correct them in any future editions of Singing in the Echo Chamber.

  • On page 6, Eric Nuzum’s book ‘Parental Advisory’ was published in 2001, not 2004.
  • On page 31, the song “John Walker Blues” was released in 2002, not 2004.

    On page 31, articles in the Wall Street Journal and New York Post began the controversy over the song “John Walker Blues,” the articles themselves did not call for the song’s censorship.


Related reading:


USA: What if they gave a culture war and nobody came?
Extensive article on the history of music censorship in the U.S., detailing the occasions when judicial and legislative authorities have focused attention on popular music as expression
28 January 2003
Cameroon: Singer Lapiro de Mbanga gets asylum in the US
Lapiro de Mbanga, who was imprisoned in Cameroon for three years for a song criticizing President Biya, has been granted asylum in the USA.
13 September 2012
US visa issues: Two orchestras forced to cancel their concerts
An American festival had to cancel two shows and two workshops by international artists due to visa problems and alleged embassy discrimination
26 September 2011
USA: Controversy over album cover with photo of World Trade Center attack
The cover of Steve Reich’s new album ‘WTC 9/11’ stirred up such controversy that he asked the publishing company, Nonesuch, to withdraw the image. Nonesuch complied
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USA: College bans national anthem because of too violent lyrics
A 1,000-student college in Indiana State has banned ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ at all sporting events because the national anthem’s lyrics are too violent and glorifying war
31 August 2011
USA: ‘Footloose’ – dance film about a town where rock music is banned
The story of ‘Footloose’ follows the young dance maniac Ren McCormack, a boy who comes to a small town where rock music and dancing have been banned
17 August 2011
Syria: Parents beaten because of their son’s music
Pianist Malek Jandali blamed his work for what he said was an attack by Syrian government security forces on his parents on 28 July 2011
03 August 2011
USA: Jazz musician suspected as terrorist because of his Arabic name
An American jazz pianist’s Arabic-sounding name allegedly made US officials suspect a link between his payment for a performance in Europe and possible terrorist activities
27 June 2011
USA: Singer discriminated by anti-discrimination group
Syrian-American musician Malek Jandali was disinvited from performing at an anti-discrimination convention because of a pro-freedom song he was due to perform
15 June 2011
Lebanon: American pop song banned by Lebanese radio
American superstar Lady Gaga – topping the music charts in 21 countries – has stirred religious controversy for being ‘offensive to Christianity’
08 June 2011
UK / USA: ‘Offending’ album title covered with sticker
The British rock band Arctic Monkeys’ new album is entitled ‘Suck It And See’ – a phrase which causes a stir in the US where major stores will cover the offending album title
06 June 2011
USA/Cuba: Impossible Music Session 4 – Not appearing: Escuadrón Patriota
The ‘Impossible Music Session’ no 4 takes place on Friday 10 June 2011 at 8:00 PM in Pfizer Auditorium in Brooklyn, New York, USA
18 May 2011

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