Every Tone a Testimony: An African American Aural History
Subtitled "An African American Aural History," the scope of this two-CD set is impressive, encompassing poetry, writings, speeches, and music by many major Black musicians, writers, and activists of the 20th century. The focus of the disc, however, wavers enough to make it an uneven, jumpy listening experience, although it's a valuable source for educators and radio… See more details below
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This is without a doubt the most exciting American History resource to cross my desk in years! It contains 59 tracks (nearly two and a half hours) of material drawn from the Smithsonian Folkways archive, organized to create a history of African American life and culture in sound. It presents music, poetry, oratory and prose by historically renowned African American musicians, writers and activists spanning two centuries. Just a sampling of the diverse voices you'll hear include Langston Hughes, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B.Du Bois, Margaret Walker, the Fisk Jubliee Singers, Gwendolyn Brooks, Paul Robeson, Muddy Waters, the SNCC Freedom Singers , Martin Luther King, Jr, Angela Davis, Nikki Giovanni, and Arrested Development. Writers who predate recorded sound are also represented by historical recordings; for example, Arna Bontemps reads writings of Lucy Terry, Ruby Dee reads Sojourner Truth and Ida B. Wells-Barnett. (I was impressed with the equal representation of women throughout the project.) Folk tracks trace the development of African American music: for example, there's a ''field call'' by Annie Grace Horn Dodson, a ''complaint call'' by Enoch Brown. Percy Randolph performs a shoe shining song, and the Inmates Of Ramsey Retrieve State Farms perform a work song. As if that's not enough for under $25, it also includes an extensive booklet with supplemental material. Anyone who teaches American History or African American Studies cannot afford to be without this CD, and anyone who loves aural history will want it in their collection. It's invaluable.