‘Freedom Sings’ concert to feature movements’ musicThe campaigns for women’s rights, civil rights and the environment are all social movements that found a voice through music. “Freedom Sings,” a free concert at Jamestown College Friday, looks to underscore the types of music that have made a lasting impact on society, even if those songs were banned or censored.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
The campaigns for women’s rights, civil rights and the environment are all social movements that found a voice through music.
“Freedom Sings,” a free concert at Jamestown College Friday, looks to underscore the types of music that have made a lasting impact on society, even if those songs were banned or censored.
Songs that started movements wouldn’t have become popular if it wasn’t for the First Amendment, which protects Americans’ rights to the freedoms of speech, the press, religion, assembly and to petition the government.
“There is the reality that you’re talking to people about a 200-plus-year-old constitutional amendment and that may not set toes to tapping no matter how deeply you feel about freedom,” said Gene Policinski, senior vice president and executive director of the First Amendment Center.
Policinski has been with “Freedom Sings” for more than 10 years and travels the country with professional Nashville, Tenn., talent to stress those freedoms.
At Jamestown College Friday will be Dez Dickerson, a guitar player for Prince, three-time Grammy winner Ashley Cleveland, singer-songwriter Jason White and others.
They will perform songs — as part of a multi-media presentation — that have shaped America, regardless of those who wanted the songs banned.
“We thought there was an opportunity to combine something Nashville has in abundance, which is musical talent, with a show that educates the audience but also entertains them,” Policinski said. “We look at music that has been banned that has served as a social anthem, and we find that in the time of the show you move from the colonial period up to hip hop and rap, with a heavy dose of rock ’n’ roll, which seemed to really attract the censors.
“But in the process you hear a lot about those five freedoms and why they’re important and how they really inspire people.”
Some songs include Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi,” CSNY’s “Ohio,” Randy Newman’s “Short People” and close to 20 more.
“The North Dakota Newspaper Association Education Foundation was the driving factor for getting them (“Freedom Sings”) to North Dakota and they were looking for a venue and Jamestown College offered to be the venue,” said Steve Listopad, student media director at Jamestown College.
For Policinski, people can come to the show to be entertained or come for the deeper message.
“You can come and enjoy the show as pure entertainment, these are amazing musicians who will just blow the doors off the place, so you can just enjoy it as an entertainment experience,” he said. “… Or you can take the package in — the narration, the videos, the music — and really think about the message, which is really just know those five freedoms and consider the impact of free expression, freedom of religion, press, assembly and petition on your life and how it affects your life.”
The all-ages show starts at 7:30 p.m. and admission is free. Seats will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
“We’ve been playing for 10 years and I think what people come away with is the value of free expression,” Policinski said.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org