“Solidarity, Forever”: Zilphia Horton’s Labor Songs, Communism, and the CIO

By: Felicia M. Miyakawa (Round Rock, TX) // When labor agitators met for marches and rallies in the early twentieth century, they sang from songbooks. Their songbooks were inexpensively printed, pocket-sized, and usually included only the lyrics because the tunes were well-known. (A song set to a familiar tune is known as a contrafact.) They … Continue reading “Solidarity, Forever”: Zilphia Horton’s Labor Songs, Communism, and the CIO

Joe Hill Returns: Labor Movements and Protest Music

In 2011, singer Joan Baez performed the song “Joe Hill” for a Veteran’s Day rally sponsored by Occupy Wall Street, a movement that began in New York City that same year in response to widespread financial corruption at banks and corporations. Baez has long been known for her work as an activist; although she might be new to younger generations, her voice is still respected at protests.

The Problem with Geniuses

By: Sara Haefeli (Ithaca College) // Our monolithic history of Western classical music is largely a story about the great composers, many of whom are described as geniuses. The label has convinced many that we can’t enter the inner circle of musicians and composers. It is an elite cadre, and the chances that a new … Continue reading The Problem with Geniuses

Selma’s Music: The Politics of Commemorating Bloody Sunday

By: Felicia Miyakawa (Round Rock, TX) // In 1965, documentary filmmaker Stefan Sharff captured the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Sharff’s style is sonically sparse: in the entire 17-minute film, we hear only the chopping of helicopter blades; the voice of Dr. King, taken from a recording of … Continue reading Selma’s Music: The Politics of Commemorating Bloody Sunday