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Let Freedom Sing: The Music of the Abolitionists


Airs Tuesday, February 9, at 11 p.m. Let Freedom Sing chronicles the idealistic artists, uncompromising personalities and powerful music of the era, and looks at how these forces combined to turn abolitionism from a scorned fringe movement into a nation-changing force. This one-hour special will be hosted by NPR contributing correspondent Noah Adams.

But as reformers of the day would say, "Any good crusade requires singing."  And in the 19th century, no cause was more righteous than the decades-long crusade to abolish slavery.
The American Experience series chronicles how five leading abolitionists mobilized a nation to overcome what¿s been called the "greatest obstacle to America achieving the ideals of its founding."  The Abolitionists tells the story of the movement through the lens of five main characters : South Carolina society dame-turned-abolition crusader Angelina Grimke; radical insurrectionist John Brown, Uncle Tom's Cabin novelist Harriet Beecher Stowe, and most especially, African American orator Frederick Douglass, and firebrand newspaper publisher William Lloyd Garrison.
And music was one of their major weapons.   Host Noah Adams, with the help of Dale Cockrell, professor emeritus at the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University, and Director of the Center for Popular Music at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, TN, profiles the five main musical figures of the cause, whose lives and careers were similarly intertwined: English balladeer Henry Russell, the 13-member Hutchinson Family Singers from New Hampshire, the great American songwriter Stephen Foster,  Chicago publisher turned composer George F. Root (author of "Battle Cry of Freedom"), and songwriter Henry Clay Work, author of the Emancipation anthem "Kingdom Coming."