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Civil Rights Music

The Soundtracks of the Civil Rights Movement

Reiland Rabaka

While there have been a number of studies that have explored African American “movement culture” and African American “movement politics,” rarely has the mixture of black music and black politics or, rather, black music an as expression of black movement politics, been explored across several genres of African American “movement music,” and certainly not with a central focus on the major soundtracks of the Civil Rights Movement: gospel, freedom songs, rhythm & blues, and rock & roll. Here the mixture of music and politics emerging out of the Civil Rights Movement is critically examined as an incredibly important site and source of spiritual rejuvenation, social organization, political education, and cultural transformation, not simply for the non-violent civil rights soldiers of the 1950s and 1960s, but for organic intellectual-artist-activists deeply committed to continuing the core ideals and ethos of the Civil Rights Movement in the twenty-first century. Civil Rights Music: The Soundtracks of the Civil Rights Movement is primarily preoccupied with that liminal, in-between, and often inexplicable place where black popular music and black popular movements meet and merge. Black popular movements are more than merely social and political affairs. Beyond social organization and political activism, black popular movements provide much-needed spaces for cultural development and artistic experimentation, including the mixing of musical and other aesthetic traditions. “Movement music” experimentation has historically led to musical innovation, and musical innovation in turn has led to new music that has myriad meanings and messages—some social, some political, some cultural, some spiritual and, indeed, some sexual. Just as black popular movements have a multiplicity of meanings, this book argues that the music that emerges out of black popular movements has a multiplicity of meanings as well. « less more »
Lexington Books
Pages: 272Size: 6 3/8 x 9 1/2
978-1-4985-3178-8 • Hardback • May 2016 • $100.00 • (£70.00)
978-1-4985-3180-1 • Paperback • May 2016 • $46.99 • (£31.95)
978-1-4985-3179-5 • eBook • May 2016 • $43.99 • (£29.95)
Reiland Rabaka is professor of African, African American, and Caribbean studies in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the author of The Hip Hop Movement: From R&B and the Civil Rights Movement to Rap and the Hip Hop Generation and Hip Hop’s Amnesia: From Blues and the Black Women’s Club Movement to Rap and the Hip Hop Movement.
Chapter 1: The Sociology of the Civil Rights Movement
Chapter 2: The Musicology of the Civil Rights Movement
Chapter 3: Gospel and the Civil Rights Movement
Chapter 4: Rhythm & Blues and the Civil Rights Movement
Chapter 5: Rock & Roll and the Civil Rights Movement
Drawing on a wide range of studies, Rabaka traces the history of African American music, focusing on how that music intersected with the Civil Rights Movement. The author interprets 'civil rights music' broadly within a complex theoretical structure. In the first two chapters, Rabaka takes up, respectively, the sociology and the musicology of the Civil Rights Movement in the wake of WW II. In chapter 2, he writes that 'Africana critical theory involves not only the critique of domination and discrimination, but also—à la the Civil Rights Movement—a deep commitment to human liberation and radical democratic social transformation.' In the remaining three chapters, he looks at musical genres, examining the gospel, rhythm and blues, and rock 'n' roll music associated with the movement. Numerous scholars and songs are cited.... Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.

Although Reiland Rabaka focuses mainly on the music associated with civil rights protest movements of the 1960s, his splendid new book, Civil Rights Music, offers intriguing insights about the close relationship that has long existed between African-American popular music and African-American freedom struggles. This major addition to the civil rights literature shows how black culture and black politics cannot be fully understood separately because they have always transformed one another.
Clayborne Carson, The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute, Stanford University

In this expert account of civil rights "movement music," Reiland Rabaka weaves an intricate tapestry around the musical stars and everyday people who struggled for black liberation. In so doing, he offers a new way of hearing and writing the social histories encoded in song.
Emily Lordi, University of Massachusetts, Amherst