American Experience: Soundtrack for a Revolution on WXXI-TV

Mon, 05/09/2011 - 9:30pm

Photo: Anthony Hamilton and Blind Boys of Alabama

Credit: Courtesy of Stephen Kazmierski 

This film tells the story of the American Civil Rights movement through its powerful music -- the freedom songs protesters sang  as they fought for justice and equality.

Songs of freedom sustained, nurtured, and propelled the Civil Rights movement to victory, as is seen in the American Experience film Soundtrack for a Revolution, airing Monday, May 9 at 9:30 p.m. on WXXI-TV/HD (DT21.1/cable 1011 and 11).

The film features new performances by top artists including John Legend, Joss Stone, Wyclef Jean, and The Roots; riveting archival footage; and interviews with Civil Rights foot soldiers and leaders, including Congressman John Lewis, Harry Belafonte, Julian Bond, Andrew Young, and dozens more. Soundtrack for a Revolution celebrates the vitality of the freedom songs and explores how these simple but stirring anthems had the power to sustain the movement during its darkest hours. Directed by Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman (Nanking), and executive produced by Danny Glover.

The freedom songs that propelled the Civil Rights movement -- from the Montgomery bus boycott to lunch counter sit-ins, from Birmingham to the march on Washington to Selma -- evolved from slave chants, from the labor movement, and especially from the black church. They enabled blacks to sing words they could not say, and were crucial in helping the Civil Rights activists as they faced down brutal aggression with dignity and non-violence. The film weaves together contemporary performances of such timeless songs as “Eyes on the Prize,” “Wade in the Water,” and “We Shall Overcome,” with heart-wrenching interviews and dramatic footage from the front lines of the fight for freedom.